Southampton strike late to deny Black Cats

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It was a case of the late-late show for Southampton once again, as Jose Fonte headed home an equaliser with just two minutes of normal time remaining.

The Portuguese centre-half ensured it was a case of deja vu, following on from Rickie Lambert's late winner last weekend at West Bromwich Albion. Whilst this goal did not earn the side three points, it provided them with a well-deserved draw in a tough fixture against a robust Sunderland side.

Paolo Di Canio's side earned their first point of the season in a feisty display at St. Mary's, in a result that left Mauricio Pochettino frustrated and Di Canio thankful for the final whistle.

Sunderland stole into an early lead on the south coast as the smallest man on the pitch, Emmanuele Giaccherini, headed in from a corner on the three minute mark. The whipped ball from Seb Larsson evaded the defence, who looked hapless as Giaccherini showed the awareness to find the space to head home.

Southampton could have been forgiven for believing they had struck back with an immediate leveller, when Jay Rodriguez benefited from a Lambert through ball, but his comfortable finish was ruled out due to an offside call.

The Saints continued to assert their dominance as they remained camped in the Sunderland half, but sections of their play remained sloppy. Only Fonte prevented Morgan Schneiderlin's wayward ball providing Jozy Altidore with a clear-cut opportunity on goal.

James Ward-Prowse excelled in an all-action display, and the eighteen year old talent provided a pin-point cross for Rickie Lambert. Lambert's header was low and well-placed, but Keiren Westwood reacted superbly to deny the forward.

Sunderland could've gone two up when Larsson once again whipped in a superb corner kick, which almost found its way straight into the back of the net. Fortunately for Southampton, Artur Boruc was alert to the danger to charge and punch clear.

The Black Cats were denied a penalty when Altidore went to ground in the Saints' box shortly before the half-hour mark. Lee Mason waved away the protests of the Sunderland players. Ward-Prowse quickly found his way into the book with the foul that followed on Seb Larsson.

Craig Gardner quickly levelled up the card count, earning himself a yellow for a lunge on Luke Shaw.

Ward-Prowse whipped in a free-kick towards the back-post, but Fonte was dragged to the ground by the Sunderland defence and the ball sailed wide for a goal-kick.

Ward-Prowse provided once more, this time lifting a floated ball with his left foot, finding Lambert in the penalty area. Lambert's wayward header was nodded over the bar, with the frustration of the Southampton man clearly visible to all inside St. Mary's.

There was to be a third penalty shout before the half was out. Adam Lallana swivelled on the ball to attempt to pull open some space before claiming a foul from John O'Shea. The referee once again waved all appeals away, ensuring Sunderland went into the break with the lead.

Mauricio Pochettino was not prepared to wait any longer, opting to immediately try and impact the performance early in the second half. Before the start of the second forty-five minutes he introduced Nathaniel Clyne for Luke Shaw, whilst also withdrawing Morgan Schneiderlin in favour of the club's new record signing, Dani Osvaldo.

Paolo Di Canio also opted to alter his line-up, introducing South Korean forward Ji Dong-Won in the place of Stephane Sessegnon.

Southampton picked up as they left off, as Lallana combined in a quick phase of play with new signing Osvaldo, before Diakite could end the attack and give the south coast side a corner.

David Vaughan entered the fray as Di Canio withdrew Jack Colback in order to encourage his side to assert themselves in the ensuing midfield battle with Victor Wanyama and James Ward-Prowse.

Dani Osvaldo brought down the ball before cutting back to lift the ball onto the head of former Burnley forward Jay Rodriguez, who could only nod tamely at Westwood, providing the keeper with an easy save.

Sunderland once again had the opportunity to double up their tally, as Altidore made a run to get in on goal, before Polish stopper Boruc charged from his line to deny the American with a low block.

Academy product Calum Chambers surged forward for the Saints, swinging another cross into the Sunderland box. The Black Cats dealt with the danger once more, as Lambert headed at Westwood with his attempt on goal.

Pochettino made his third change of the afternoon on 67 minutes, introducing Uruguayan playmaker Gaston Ramirez in place of club captain Lallana, who passed the armband to Rickie Lambert.

Ramirez had an instant impact, capitalising on a good pass from Wanyama before being fouled on the edge of the box. Lambert could only fire over from the resulting free-kick.

Craig Gardner could perhaps count himself fortunate to still be on the pitch, after body-checking Uruguayan Ramirez on the edge of the penalty area in a cynical foul.

A flailing arm from Sunderland target man Altidore led to Dejan Lovren receiving treatment from the Southampton physio, but the referee decided that no further action was required.

Connor Wickham was introduced to the game in place of Giaccherini with ten minutes left on the clock.

The last ten minutes were to prove action packed, with Southampton star Osvaldo perhaps lucky to remain on the pitch at full-time.

Osvaldo went into Lee Mason's book with seven minutes remaining after a cynical-looking trip on Modibo Diakite. The Italian forward was clearly irate with the referee who had minutes later ignored O'Shea jumping over Osvaldo with his arms planted into the former Roma man's back.

He could've been walking off when he lunged in at the feet of a Sunderland defender, catching his ankle with a tackle, but Mason opted just to warn the enthusiastic front-man. 

Having been awarded a free-kick in a deep position, Southampton's James Ward-Prowse lofted a ball towards the back-post, with Osvaldo pulling open the space for Fonte to coast in and head in a late equaliser.

Southampton pressed for the winner, but were denied by a combination of a firm Sunderland defence and time-killing tactics.

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