Tottenham secured their first away victory in the Premiership - but were forced to work hard for their win.
Calum Davenport (centre) scored his first goal for Spurs
The visitors dominated the first half thanks to Calum Davenport's 15th minute header and a superb 20-yard half-volley from Tom Huddlestone on 24 minutes.
But City fought back when Joey Barton latched onto Paul Dickov's cross and volleyed home in the 64th minute.
Barton also had an appeal for a penalty turned down when he was felled by Steed Malbranque in the final five minutes.
The game ended in stark contrast to the first half, when Spurs completely dominated possession and created numerous goalscoring chances.
Calum Davenport put the Londoners ahead with a smart header from Huddlestone's free-kick.
The centre-back - in the side for the suspended Michael Dawson - intelligently directed his header beyond Nicky Weaver for his first goal in Spurs colours.
And Huddlestone doubled the lead on 24 minutes with a vicious, curling, right-footed half-volley on the edge of the box.
It was the midfielder's first goal for Spurs in the Premiership and fitting reward for finishing a move he began deep inside his own half.
Spurs continued to dominate and City had Richard Dunne to thank when he cleared Steed Malbranque's goal-bound volley from 12 yards.
The interval gave City boss Pearce the opportunity to reshuffle his formation, bringing on defender Nedum Onouha for the ineffective Georgios Samaras and partnering Paul Dickov with Darius Vassell up front.
And his stern half-time team talk had its desired effect as City began to push forward in search of goals.
Stephen Ireland missed a good opportunity when he fired over Paul Robinson's crossbar and Davenport's interception prevented Dickov from getting a shot on goal.
And City eventually reaped reward for their endeavour with Barton's goal.
The midfielder was unmarked as he latched onto Dickov's well-directed cross into the Spurs box.
And Eastlands erupted in a cacophony of boos when Malbranque appeared to bring down Barton in the box on 85 minutes, but referee Rob Styles dismissed calls for a penalty.
Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce on Joey Barton's unsuccessful penalty appeal after he was brought down by Steed Malbranque:
"Joey believes he was clipped.
"I've watched the incident again and I thought Malbranque got Joey's foot and none of the ball.
"The referee said he thought it was a penalty but the linesman didn't flag so he didn't give it."
"The team were very, very poor for 45 minutes. But in the second half we rolled our sleeves up when maybe it would have been easier to go under.
"And at the end of 90 minutes maybe we deserved to get something out of it."
Spurs manager Martin Jol on missed goalscoring opportunities in the first half:
"The problem is if you make it 3-0 you think it will be all over but going 2-0 up is never enough and I think they showed that by scoring with more than half an hour still to go.
"We have played a lot more matches recently and they have not, so I knew in the first half we would have to score three goals.
"In the end it was enough but we made it difficult for ourselves.
"But we showed our resolve and got the win that puts us up in the top seven where we belong."
Man City: Weaver, Richards (Ireland 30), Dunne, Distin, Jordan, Trabelsi, Barton, Reyna (Dabo 69), Vassell, Dickov, Samaras (Onuoha 46).
Subs Not Used: Isaksson, Miller.
Booked: Dunne. Goals: Barton 64.
Tottenham: Robinson, Chimbonda, Davenport, King, Lee, Ghaly, Huddlestone, Malbranque, Tainio, Berbatov, Defoe (Mido 83).
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Stalteri, O'Hara, Gardner.
Goals: Davenport 16, Huddlestone 24.
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).