Manchester City faltered for the first time in 13 Premier League matches as they were forced to come from behind to secure a point at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday evening.
Having fallen behind to Kyle Walker-Peters’s seventh-minute goal, Pep Guardiola’s side initially struggled to work their way into the game before Aymeric Laporte headed the equaliser midway through the second-half.
City dominated the latter stages of the game but were unable to break down Southampton’s resolute defence and find a winning goal. The outcome means they extended their lead at the head of the table to 12 points, having played two games more than second-placed Liverpool, who will travel to Crystal Palace on Sunday with the opportunity to make up ground in the title race.
City started the game in familiar fashion, moving the ball at speed and quickly troubling the Southampton backline, although there was an early sign of defensive uncertainty from the visitors when Aymeric Laporte’s misplaced pass almost allowed Che Adams a run on goal.
Guardiola’s side failed to heed the warning and they fell behind after just seven minutes when the home side launched an incisive counter-attack. Oriel Romeu switched play with a crossfield ball to Kyle Walker-Peters who exchanged passes with Nathan Redmond before producing a composed finish for his first Premier League goal.
City’s response was unconvincing. They dominated possession as usual but the game was almost 30 minutes old before they conjured their first attempt on goal. By contrast, Southampton were much more threatening when they did get the opportunity to attack and Armando Broja found the net only to have the effort ruled out for offside.
Despite that the visitors should have been level in the 38th minute when Sterling somehow failed to score after being set up by Phil Foden with the forward firing his shot straight at keeper Fraser Forster from just six yards out.
There was more urgency to City’s play after the restart but they were fortunate not to avoid falling further behind when Broja headed against the post from close range following a 53rd-minute corner.
That, though, proved to be Southampton’s last clear opportunity and Guardiola’s side began to move through the gears, although the home side should have done more to prevent Laporte equalising with a free header from a 65th minute Kevin De Bruyne free-kick.
Moments later De Bruyne struck the woodwork with a long-range header and Gabriel Jesus hit the same post with a header. There would be no further lapse in concentration by the home defence
Forster; Walker-Peters, Bednarek (Lyanco 70), Salisu, Perraud; S Armstrong (Diallo 81), Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Redmond (Elyounoussi 46); Broja, Adams.
Caballero, Stephens, Long, A Armstrong, Walcott, Valery.
Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Sterling (Jesus 60), Grealish, Foden.
Carson, Slicker, Stones, Ake, Gundogan, Fernandinho, McAtee, Wilson-Esbrand.