Jonny Evans' header ensured Champions League hopefuls Leicester avoided a surprise defeat to 10-man Southampton as they drew 1-1 at St Mary's.
The hosts may have been fearing a repeat of last season's 9-0 thrashing after Jannik Vestergaard was shown a contentious early red card for denying Jamie Vardy a clear goalscoring opportunity.
But, after limiting Leicester and the Premier League's man of the moment Kelechi Iheanacho to some sporadic half-chances, out-of-form Southampton instead took the lead after an hour when Iheanacho's handball allowed James Ward-Prowse to step up and beat Kasper Schmeichel from 12 yards.
The Saints' lead lasted only seven minutes as Iheanacho redeemed himself by finding Evans with a cross from the corner of the area, which was powered home by the experienced centre-back.
Vardy was denied by Southampton 'keeper Alex McCarthy late on when he should have earned another comeback win for Leicester, who instead missed the chance to move 10 points clear of fifth place and could now see their cushion inside the Champions League spots cut by West Ham and Chelsea later this weekend.
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Southampton: McCarthy (7), Walker-Peters (7), Vestergaard (5), Bednarek (7), Stephens (6), Ward-Prowse (7), Armstrong (6), Minamino (5), Tella (5), Adams (6), Redmond (6).
Subs: Salisu (6), Diallo (6), N'Lundulu (n/a).
Leicester: Schmeichel (6), Castagne (6), Evans (7), Fofana (6), Soyuncu (6), Thomas (6), Ndidi (6), Maddison (6), Tielemans (6), Iheanacho (6), Vardy (6).
Subs: Perez (6), Albrighton (6).
Man of the match: Kyle Walker-Peters
Saints put poor form aside to frustrate Foxes
A game which offered up nine goals in the corresponding fixture last season showed no early signs of following suit with Nathan Tella's tame effort the only goalmouth action either side enjoyed in the opening stages.
One concerning parallel for Southampton would follow shortly afterwards, with the hosts again reduced to 10 men after Rob Jones controversially showed a straight red card to Vestergaard for denying Vardy a clear goalscoring opportunity, despite television replays showing the defender had won the ball before making any contact.
But James Maddison's subsequent free-kick, whipped just wide from 20 yards, proved about as much significant pressure as Leicester could mount on the 10-man hosts before the break.
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Brendan Rodgers added Ayoze Perez as another attacking option for the second half but Southampton continued to hold firm, and took the lead on the hour mark after Stuart Armstrong's shot hit Iheanacho's arm, and Ward-Prowse beat Schmeichel from 12 yards.
An improbable victory was snatched away long before full-time as just seven minutes later Iheanacho's cross from the right was met with a firm Evans header, leaving McCarthy with little chance from six yards and bringing Leicester level.
- Nathan Redmond, Takumi Minamino and Jack Stephens returned for Southampton.
- Leicester were unchanged from the side that beat Crystal Palace on Monday night.
In the final 10 minutes, Vardy should have completed the turnaround when outpacing Kyle Walker-Peters to the ball and then turning inside him to shoot, but in going for power he was denied by a sprawling McCarthy, before Wilfred Ndidi wasted the visitors' last chance of note by firing wide when unmarked from 20 yards.
Southampton move a point closer to securing their survival but are now 10 clear of 18th-placed Fulham, while Leicester may still require another eight points from their final four games to be certain of a top-four finish.
Redknapp: 'Leicester need to aim for third'
Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp:
"Leicester have got a tough run-in. Newcastle are resurgent, Manchester United are in brilliant form, the FA Cup final is sandwiched in there, and then Spurs after Chelsea away. Fourth might not be guaranteed Champions League, with Arsenal potentially winning the Europa League and Chelsea potentially winning the Champions League, which would see them automatically qualify.
"You don't want to be taking any chances, Leicester need to finish third if they can. The football they have played has been so good, but after their wobble last year you are just concerned whether it could happen again. Having said that, I think this team is too good this year and have learned from last season's mistakes."
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- Southampton are the first side to avoid defeat in a Premier League game when they had a man sent off inside the first 10 minutes since Leicester in March 2019 (2-1 win v Burnley, after a fourth minute Harry Maguire dismissal).
- Leicester scored just once from 22 shots against Southampton this evening, after scoring nine goals from 25 shots against them in this exact fixture last season.
- Southampton have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the Premier League this season (23).
- Leicester have failed to win consecutive Premier League away games for the first time since July 2020, when they were winless in their final eight away games of last season.
- James Ward-Prowse has been directly involved in 14 goals in the Premier League this season (8 goals, 6 assists); the most by a Southampton midfielder in a single campaign since Dusan Tadic in 2015-16 (19).
What the managers said...
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl told Sky Sports: "We deserve big credit. We can discuss the red card, but how we bounced back was amazing, how we tried to defend everything we could. Apart from the goal how we defended in and around was amazing. After the red card we deserved something from the game.
"Vestergaard had a bad touch but then played the ball back to the goalkeeper. He plays the ball, a simple pass. The official explanation was that it was a 100 per cent goal chance but Vardy never had the ball and was never going to get it because the goalkeeper was there. Maybe it was a foul because he made contact with the player after the ball, but not a red card."
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers told Sky Sports: "I'm a little frustrated, we didn't do enough to win the game. Normally in this type of game we are very good, but we didn't pick up the tempo of the game until we went behind. Give credit to Southampton, they defended deep and compact with 10 men and made it difficult for us. But we're disappointed.
"The sending off was an advance to us but the game was too slow, and the speed of our game was not quite at the tempo you would want to shift the ball about. We arrived in some really good positions but didn't quite have that precision or timing on that final pass."
Man of the match - Kyle Walker-Peters
In an all-round stoic defensive performance Walker-Peters shone at right-back, denying Vardy what could easily have been a goalscoring chance late on and staying on his man all night.
No-one won the ball back more times than the ex-Spurs man (eight), who showed his streetwise qualities too in winning three fouls to relieve pressure on the home back-line.
Live Premier League
Southampton travel to Liverpool next Saturday on Saturday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7.45pm; Kick-off at 8.15pm.
Leicester will be part of Friday Night Football for the second weekend in a row as they host Newcastle on May 7, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7.30pm; Kick-off at 8pm.