Nathaniel Clyne denied Aston Villa a much-needed win as his late goal rescued a point for a disappointing Southampton side.
The England right-back buried Ryan Bertrand’s cross to reduce the gap on leaders Chelsea to six points.
Villa went ahead when Gabriel Agbonlahor took advantage of an error of judgement from Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster to score.
But Saints’ pressure finally told when Clyne side-footed home from 12 yards.
Ronald Koeman’s side dominated possession – completing 229 passes more than the hosts – and undoubtedly deserved a share of the spoils.
But with their next three games coming against Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, Koeman will be concerned at the lack of quality in the final third on display from his side against Villa’s packed defence.
They managed only four shots on target all evening, and Villa keeper Brad Guzan had rarely been forced into serious action until Clyne’s well-taken finish nine minutes from time.
Villa stopped a run of three straight home defeats but have not won since beating Liverpool on 13 September.
And few of the crowd of 25,311 – the lowest league attendance at Villa Park since December 1999 – will remember Paul Lambert’s 100th game in charge with much fondness.