A near-capacity crowd watched Premier League champions Manchester City be held at home by Southampton on Saturday afternoon.
Pep Guardiola’s side might even have felt relieved to claim a point after referee Jon Moss overturned decisions to award Southampton a penalty and send Kyle Walker off in the second half.
Raheem Sterling thought he had snatched victory with a last-gasp strike but the flag was raised for offside and VAR confirmed the decision.
Guardiola had issued a rallying cry to fans after Wednesday’s remarkable 6-3 victory over RB Leipzig, which took their goal tally in their last three home games to 16, and the supporters responded by producing a vibrant atmosphere.
Clear-cut opportunities were at a premium as City failed to muster a shot on target in the first half.
Saints were resilient but also positive on the break but they were unable to seriously trouble Ederson in an even start to the contest.
City eventually began to assert a measure of control and Sterling played Ilkay Gundogan in on goal with a nice ball but Alex McCarthy was quick to deal with the danger.
The hosts created a series of further chances before the break without testing McCarthy. Jack Grealish had a dangerous cross cut out and Sterling curled an effort wide.
A low Jesus ball was then too strong for Bernardo Silva and the Brazilian also missed the target with a header.
Saints’ best opportunity in the first half saw Mohamed Elyounoussi shoot tamely at Ederson but the visitors stepped up the tempo after the restart with Che Adams dragging an effort across goal.
Controversy then erupted when Southampton were awarded a penalty after Walker appeared to bundle into the back of Armstrong.
Moss had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and was quick to show the red card to Walker but the referee was invited to review the whole incident again on the monitor following a VAR check. Much to the relief of City, he decided to cancel the penalty and overturn the sending off.
Guardiola responded to the let-off by sending on Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden off the bench in quick succession.
Still, Southampton continued to press with Nathan Redmond threatening with a weaving run into the area and Adams curling a shot wide.
City picked up the intensity in the closing minutes and thought they had found a way through when Sterling smashed home a rebound after McCarthy brilliantly kept out a Foden header. Moss ruled out the effort for offside and a tense few moments followed as VAR checked the decision but the effort did not count.
- Atmosphere was ‘great, as always’ during Saints stalemate – Guardiola
- Manchester City 1-0 Brighton: Pep’s men up to third
- Chelsea 3-1 Southampton: Werner, Chilwell score against 10-man Saints