Southampton ended Manchester City’s winning run in the Premier League with a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday evening.
Aymeric Laporte headed a 65th-minute equaliser for Pep Guardiola’s men following a surprise early opener from Saints defender Kyle Walker-Peters.
Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus struck the same post in the second period but City were unable to find a winner during incessant pressure as they failed to win a top-flight game for the first time since a shock 2-0 loss at home to Crystal Palace way back in late October.
The result leaves the reigning champions 12 points clear of second-placed Liverpool, albeit having played two games more, ahead of a 17-day break from top-flight action.
Southampton played their part in a pulsating encounter, with Armando Broja seeing a goal ruled out for offside and later heading against the woodwork.
Saints, who drew 0-0 at the Etihad Stadium in September, climb a place to 12th.
Ruben Dias returned in place of John Stones to captain City in the only change from last weekend’s 1-0 win over Chelsea, while Southampton reverted to a four-man defence and brought back Walker-Peters, Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted pre-match that he could not see anyone overhauling City in the title race.
Yet his side quickly proved Guardiola’s men are not infallible as Walker-Peters lifted the roof off the stadium inside seven minutes with his maiden Premier League goal.
The recalled Saints right-back played a slick on-two with Nathan Redmond down the right before emphatically finding the far corner with the outside of his right boot.
Stunned by the early opener, City continued to monopolise the ball without seriously threatening before surviving a major scare.
Outstanding stop, Fraser Forster 👏
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) January 22, 2022
In-form Chelsea loanee Broja caused more jubilation in the stands after racing clear to calmly slot beyond visiting goalkeeper Ederson, only for the joy to be swiftly snuffed out by an offside flag.
The hosts were clearly up for the battle, evidenced further by defender Jan Bednarek being booked for scraping his studs down the shin of an incensed Jack Grealish.
City needed 37 minutes to register a shot on target and should have been level at the break.
Southampton left-back Romain Perraud failed to cut out Phil Foden’s low cross from the left but the unmarked Raheem Sterling wastefully directed his effort straight at Fraser Forster from just over six yards out.
City set up camp inside the home side’s half in the opening stages of the second period but the greater chances were initially concentrated at the other end.
Poland defender Bednarek saw a close-range header repelled by Ederson before later lashing a rebound wide after Broja headed against the right post following a corner, awarded following Laporte’s last-ditch sliding tackle to deny Saints substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi.
At the other end, Foden tested Forster with a thumping volley and Rodri curled narrowly over, before Southampton were finally made to pay for the missed opportunities by conceding a sloppy leveller.
De Bruyne delivered a delightful, curling free-kick in from the right and Laporte broke clear of the static Saints defence to head home unmarked from around six yards.
The one-way traffic continued as City twice hit the woodwork in the space of two minutes.
De Bruyne rattled the right post with a curling effort from distance, before substitute Gabriel Jesus headed against the same upright moments later.
Belgian De Bruyne was causing constant problems and was denied a penalty following a VAR review after going down close to the edge of Saints’ 18-yard box under pressure from Oriol Romeu and Mohammed Salisu.
Armstrong’s studs-up tackle on Laporte was also reviewed before referee Simon Hooper stuck with his original decision of a yellow card.
City were given six minutes of added time to maintain their lengthy winning run but the dogged hosts dug in to the delight of the majority inside the ground.
As the home fans celebrated a hard-fought draw, there were ugly scenes in the away end.
A handful of City supporters ran on to the pitch, while other visiting supporters clashed with stewards.