Dubai: Third-placed Leicester City suffered a frustrating night on the south coast as they were held to a 1-1 draw in the Premier League by a Southampton side who played almost the entire match with 10 men on Friday.
In the end Leicester needed a 68th-minute Jonny Evans header to salvage a point after a gritty Southampton side had taken a surprise lead via a James Ward-Prowse penalty.
Southampton had begun the game in lively fashion but they suffered a blow after 10 minutes when Jannik Vestergaard was harshly shown a red card for a last-ditch tackle on Jamie Vardy.
The draw left Leicester with 63 points from 34 games, eight points above fifth-placed West Ham United who play on Monday.
Southampton moved up a place to 14th and with a 10-point gap between themselves and third-from-bottom Fulham they look to be safe from the prospect of relegation.
“A little frustrating, I don’t think we did enough to win the game,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said. “A great opportunity against 10 men and we’re normally very good at that. Give credit to Southampton, they defended deep and compact but we’re disappointed. But it’s another point towards where we want to go. We’ve now got four games to go. We’re in a brilliant position.”
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a Premier League record-equalling 9-0 humiliation for Southampton and when Vestergaard was sent off it looked as though another miserable night was in store for Ralph Hasenhuttl and his team.
Vestergaard’s first contribution in the game was a superbly-weighted pass which set Kyle Walker-Peters clear to find the net but he was clearly offside.
His last came in the 10th minute when, having taken a heavy touch, he stretched out a leg to try and nick the ball away from Vardy. Vestergaard won the ball but his follow through caught Vardy painfully on the ankle and referee Robert Jones brandished the red card.
Despite their numerical advantage, Leicester lacked fluency and they had to wait 34 minutes to get a shot on target as Kelechi Iheanacho’s long-range effort was easily saved.
Iheanacho has not been able to put a foot wrong of late but he conceded the penalty which threatened to put a spoke in the works of Leicester’s top-four bid.
Trying to block Stuart Armstrong’s shot, his arm was raised and Jones pointed to the spot. Ward-Prowse tucked away the penalty low to Kasper Schmeichel’s right.
Leicester suddenly found more intensity with James Maddison having a succession of shots at goal and substitute Ayoze Perez forcing a fine save from Alex McCarthy.
Eventually the pressure told and Iheanacho made amends with a superb cross into the box that Evans glanced into the net.
Southampton resisted late pressure and were worthy of the point that edges them closer to safety. “One point was very important today and big for everybody this season,” Hasenhuttl said.