Danny Ings capitalised on an error by Martin Kelly to earn Southampton a share of the spoils at home to Crystal Palace.
Ings pounced on Kelly’s misplaced backpass before slotting confidently past Vicente Guaita for his 12th league goal of the season.
James Tomkins – making his 350th career appearance – had given the visitors the lead early in the second half, heading Luka Milivojevic’s delivery into the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Max Meyer thought he had put Palace ahead before half-time, but the German’s effort was disallowed by the video assistant referee for a marginal offside call against Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.
Southampton threw caution to the wind following Ings’ equaliser and went close to snatching all three points through James Ward-Prowse, but the midfielder’s goal-bound free-kick was palmed to safety by Guaita.
The result lifts Saints four points clear of the relegation zone, while Palace stay ninth on 27 points.
Saints slow out of the blocks
Superb back-to-back wins at Aston Villa and Chelsea had given Southampton a three-point cushion over the bottom three going into this game, but there was little for the home fans to cheer in a dire first half at St Mary’s.
Neither side managed to register a single shot on target, with Meyer’s disallowed goal the closest either team came to breaking the deadlock before the interval.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side improved marginally in the second half, but it wasn’t until after Ings’ equaliser – which came from Southampton’s first shot on target – that the hosts began to apply serious pressure on the Palace goal.
Second-half substitute Moussa Djenepo put in another lively display off the bench and went close to giving Saints the lead moments after Ings’ goal, but Guaita did well to palm the ball to safety.
The Palace custodian then made another smart save from Ings’ header at the near post, before the former Burnley and Liverpool man nodded over the crossbar from a central position inside the area.
Ward-Prowse’s dipping free-kick looked destined for the back of the net, but Guaita got another strong hand to the ball as Palace held on for a point.
Southampton have now lost just two of their last eight league matches but with games against Tottenham, Leicester and Wolves looming, the hosts may be disappointed not to have claimed a third straight victory.
Palace hold on after first-half VAR call
Roy Hodgson’s side had their goalkeeper to thank late on but may feel hard done by after Meyer was denied by VAR in the first half.
Zaha did superbly to set up the former Schalke man, but the Ivorian was deemed to be marginally ahead of play when put through by James McArthur in the build-up.
The visitors looked comfortable after Tomkins’ opener, but Hodgson will be bitterly disappointed by the self-inflicted nature of Southampton’s equaliser.
Kelly was under little pressure as he attempted to play a simple pass back to Tomkins but succeeded only in playing in Ings, who finished with aplomb.
Guaita then saved brilliantly from Djenepo and Ward-Prowse to preserve a point for the Eagles, who remain in a comfortable position in the top half of the table – despite going into their final game of 2019 without seven first-team regulars.
Hodgson has intimated Palace will try to sign “a few” players in the January transfer window to bolster their injury-ravaged squad.
More to follow.