Football: Southampton snatch late draw to deny Sunderland

SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom (AFP) - Virgil van Dijk grabbed a stoppage-time equaliser as ten-man Southampton rescued a 1-1 draw against struggling Sunderland on Saturday.

Ronald Koeman's hosts played the final stages a man down after Jose Fonte saw red, and it proved costly as Jermain Defoe pounced in trademark style.

But there was another twist in the tale, centre-back Van Dijk prodding past Vito Mannone in the third minute of injury time.

With all of the bottom three losing elsewhere, Sunderland still moved a point clear of 18th-placed Norwich City.

Last season the Black Cats were thrashed 8-0 at Saint Mary's, but they were much tighter in defence under Sam Allardyce this time around.

The game started to open up around the half-hour mark, with Sunderland goalkeeper Mannone having to spring to his left to keep out Dusan Tadic's acrobatic effort.

Wahbi Khazri, who scored with a free-kick against Manchester United a fortnight ago, almost repeated the trick, but Fraser Forster was able to turn the ball onto the post.

The best chance of the opening 45 minutes fell to the away side, but midfielder Jack Rodwell volleyed wide when in plenty of space.

As the weather worsened on the south coast, so did the quality of the football, although Fabio Borini did fire narrowly over.

Striker Graziano Pelle looked set to open the scoring for Southampton, but full-back Deandre Yedlin flew in to make a goal-saving tackle.

Sunderland appeared to be happy to settle for a point, but with 11 minutes left they were given a great chance to go for all three when Fonte saw red.

The Saints captain hauled down Borini with the Italian through on goal and could have no complaints with the sending off.

From the resulting free-kick, substitute Sebastian Larsson forced a very good save from Forster.

But Defoe, who had also come off the bench, took advantage of some ponderous defending to score his 14th goal of the season.

Allardyce was left fuming, though, as his side threw away the win in the final seconds, as Dutchman Van Dijk popped up in the area to prevent Southampton from losing three games on the spin.