Nathaniel Clyne scored a late equaliser to extend Southampton’s unbeaten run in all competitions to six games, following a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Villa captain Gabby Agbonlahor made the most of a rare defensive error from Saints to open the scoring on the half-hour mark against the run of play.
Despite plenty of dominance in the second half it took until the 80th minute for Saints to draw level, as Ryan Bertrand crossed for fellow full-back Clyne to power home a side-footed finish from 16 yards.
The result means Saints have not been beaten since the 1-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, and was only their second draw of the campaign.
Ronald Koeman was forced into one change as Steven Davis was unable to recover in time following the injury he picked up against Leicester City in Saints’ previous Premier League outing.
The man to replace Davis was Saints’ matchwinner in that game against the Foxes, as Shane Long came in to the side. It meant Saints, for the first time ever, had a starting XI full of internationals, following Clyne and Jose Fonte's recent debuts for England Portugal respectively.
Villa meanwhile made three defensive changes from the 0-0 draw with West Ham United before the international break as Alan Hutton, Jores Okore and Ciaran Clark came into the side.
With Long playing in the hole just behind Graziano Pellè, Koeman’s side had plenty of attacking threat, and they looked dangerous in the early stages, going close twice in the opening ten minutes.
Firstly, Sadio Mané’s deep cross found Dusan Tadić who cut inside but saw his effort deflected up and behind by Aly Cissokho’s trailing leg, before Victor Wanyama curled over after being teed up by Fonte.
More fluid football from Saints just after the 15-minute mark almost saw the deadlock broken. A clever backheel from Pellè found Ryan Bertrand who laid it on for Mané, but his shot was just off target as he stretched to get a good connection on the ball.
Agbonlahor’s pace in behind the Saints defence looked to be Villa’s best route to goal and with just under 30 minutes gone, their captain handed them the lead. The striker was able to beat goalkeeper Fraser Forster to a ball over the top before applying the finish, despite Toby Alderweireld’s last-ditch effort to keep it out.
Despite dominating, Saints were yet to test Brad Guzan in the Villa goal, but he was called into action shortly after the opener. Tadić cut inside and played the ball into the feet of Mané who opened up his body and curled towards the far post, only for Guzan to tip it behind.
From the resulting corner, Morgan Schneiderlin’s delivery found the head of Fonte, but his effort was comfortably held by Guzan.
Saints were somewhat fortunate not to be 2-0 down just after the restart. Andreas Wiemann’s cross found Charles N’Zogbia, who saw his goalbound effort hacked away by Fonte.
As Villa began to sit back on the slender lead they had, Saints were able to push forward, and with 20 minutes left they went desperately close to equalising. Fonte was found with a clever ball by Tadić, but his cross somehow evaded Pellè who was unmarked six yards out.
Just as it looked as though Saints would be unable to find an equaliser, Tadić played a clever ball into space for Bertrand who cut the ball back to the edge of the box where the onrushing Clyne powered home superbly.
Villa pressed in search of a late winner, but following the introduction of Jack Cork, Saints were able to hold on for a well-deserved point.
The result leaves Saints second in the Barclays Premier League table, two points ahead of Manchester City, who visit St Mary’s on Sunday.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Hutton, Okore, Clark, Cissokho, Westwood, Sanchez (Bent 74), Cleverley, N’Zogbia (Richardson 63), Weimann, Agbonlahor (c).
Subs not used: Given (GK), Bacuna, Cole, Lowton, Grealish.
Goals: Agbonlahor (29)
Booked: Okore (72)
Saints: Forster, Clyne, Fonte (c), Alderweireld, Bertrand, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Tadić, Long (Cork 89), Mané (Mayuka 79), Pellè.
Subs not used: Davis (GK), Yoshida, Gardos, Reed, Targett.
Goals: Clyne (81)
Booked: Wanyama (58)