City sunk by Niko's deadly double
The Tottenham pair struck either side of half-time in Wednesday
night's Premier League game for Spurs' first win since the 9-1
demolition of Wigan nearly a month ago, with Kranjcar rounding off
the victory with his second of the night in stoppage time.
City only needed to avoid defeat to go on their best unbeaten run since 1977 - but far too many of those games ended in draws and this defeat further dents their top-four aspirations.
City boss Mark Hughes was also reeling from the news of Joleon Lescott needing surgery to remove floating bone on his knee, meaning he will miss the Christmas fixtures.
They also had Shaun Wright-Phillips out with an ankle injury, Craig Bellamy suspended for his harsh red card at the Reebok Stadium and a recent history of struggling at Spurs - they had won there once in the league since 1991.
So the odds were stacked against them but they still had enough quality - Robinho and Stephen Ireland were among those drafted in - to trouble Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes more than they did.
With both teams having reputations for attacking, it was no surprise to see early efforts flying on goal, firstly with Carlos Tevez firing just wide from the edge of the area after Michael Dawson had blocked his initial effort. Peter Crouch, returning to the side in place of Robbie Keane, also headed over from a corner while under pressure from Micah Richards, then Kranjcar stabbed wide after a flowing Spurs move that included Crouch backheeling to send Aaron Lennon down the right flank.
Tom Huddlestone clashed with Nigel de Jong while tussling for a ball, leading to Hughes and Spurs assistant boss Joe Jordan, both among the toughest players of their generation, exchanging angry words.
It was an interesting sub-plot but there was action on the pitch to keep the focus away from the dug-out, next to where Benoit Assou-Ekotto clashed with a fan at the weekend. The hosts also had a penalty shout when Defoe went down after Kolo Toure challenged - but referee Alan Wiley immediately waved play on. Lennon had a running battle with veteran full-back Sylvinho, with Spurs looking to get the England winger on the ball as much as possible.
One run led to Huddlestone curling over after a pullback, while Robinho had an effort tipped over by Gomes at the other end. It was fast-paced without clear-cut chances being produced in the first half-hour, as both teams got vital blocks in to keep things level until Kranjcar struck seven minutes from the break. The Croatian started the move that led to his goal by spreading the ball wide to Lennon.
Crouch got on the end of the cross and Kranjcar rifled home after Ireland blocked the first effort. It could have got worse for City when Defoe sent Crouch through - but Shay Given rushed out to bravely block. Redknapp's 'little and large' attacking pair combined for the second goal, nine minutes after the break, with Spurs going route-one for their simple goal. Gomes' free-kick went long into City territory, Crouch climbed above Nedum Onuoha to flick on and Defoe hardly had to break stride before poking past Given for his 14th of the season.
Hughes responded by taking off Robinho, who had another quiet game away from Eastlands, and bringing on Roque Santa Cruz. The Brazilian headed straight down the tunnel as his team-mates looked for a way back into the game. Emmanuel Adebayor, jeered mercilessly despite his acrimonious departure from rivals Arsenal last summer, had sight of goal but sliced horribly over.
City continued to push for a goal with Ireland lifting a shot softly into Gomes' arms. Kranjcar then added his second in stoppage time from a short corner where he skipped around Adebayor and finished through Given's legs.