English Premiership

Van Dijk spares Southampton's blushes

Jermain Defoe (Getty Images)
Jermain Defoe (Getty Images)

Cape Town - A last-gasp equaliser from Virgil van Dijk cancelled out Jermain Defoe's early strike as 10-man Southampton claimed a 1-1 draw against Sunderland at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday.

After a slow start to the game Saints defender Ryan Bertrand received an early yellow card for chopping down Wahbi Khazri, before the Tunisian winger also got booked just a couple of minutes later when he brought down Sadio Mane. It was Bertrand who took the resulting free kick, which sailed narrowly over Vito Mannone's crossbar.

The Black Cats started forcing their way into the game midway through the first half, but almost found themselves behind in the 26th minute when Graziano Pelle headed down a cross for Dusan Tadic to strike at goal, but Mannone was there with a one-handed diving save to stop the Serb from opening the scoring.

The woodwork was struck as the game ticked past the half-hour mark, with Khazri whipping in a free kick that Fraser Forster had to push onto the crossbar, before opposite number Mannone was called into action at the other end when Virgil van Dijk headed a Steven Davis corner straight at the Italian.

Jack Rodwell then failed to tuck away a decent chance when Patrick van Aanholt centred it for him, before Oriol Romeu had a similar opportunity at the other end, putting his effort on target but seeing it saved at close-range by Mannone at his near post.

Fabio Borini had the first chance of the second half seven minutes in with a perfectly hit volley from just outside that box that kissed the top of the crossbar with Forster beaten.

The Italian striker salvaged a point late on against Crystal Palace in midweek, and came close to opening the scoring again in the 58th minute, testing Forster when he fired at goal from a tight angle.

Shaqiri then forced another good save out of Courtois with a stinging effort from just outside the box after picking up the ball and making space for himself with a quick change of pace before rifling it in towards the bottom corner.

Saints defender Jose Fonte was sent off in the 79th minute for pulling on Borini as the striker raced through on goal, but it wasn't a penalty as well, with the Black Cats earning a free kick right on the edge of the box that van Aanholt struck on target only to see it palmed away by Forster.

Jermain Defoe was introduced for Dame N'Doye on the hour mark, and the striker did what he does best in the 85th minute, meeting Lamine Kone's ball across the box to toe-poke home.

The veteran striker looked to have won it with that late opener, but Southampton had the final say in the fourth minute of added time, when van Dijk stormed into the box to finish past Mannone and salvage a point for the relegation-threatened Black Cats.

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