Roberto Mancini’s side had aspirations of fully capitalising on Manchester United’s loss to Blackburn Rovers 24 hours earlier, to establish a three-point lead at the Premier League summit.
Yet with fit-again goalkeeper Simon Mignolet impressing for the hosts, City endured a frustrating afternoon that got worse deep into added time when Sunderland broke. Ji exchanged passes with Stéphane Sessègnon before rounding Joe Hart and prodding in.
The result leaves City top only on goal difference, having failed to find the net now in 216 minutes. They had chances, mustering 19 shots on target and earning ten corners to Sunderland’s one, and went closest when Micah Richards’ 89th-minute header into the ground bounced back off the crossbar.
It was a similar story earlier in the day, when Victor Anichebe’s first goal in 22 months snatched Everton a late victory at West Brom. The game was heading for a stalemate when, three minutes from time, Anichebe pounced on a poor header from home midfielder Paul Scharner and fired past Ben Foster. It took David Moyes’s men above the Baggies, who failed to muster a shot on target, and into the top half of the table.