Substitute Cameron Jerome scored a magnificent 35-yard equaliser in the final minute as Stoke City came from 3-1 down at the Britannia Stadium to draw with Southampton and preserve their unbeaten record at home in the Premier League this season.
Kenwyne Jones had cancelled out Rickie Lambert’s tenth minute opener, but Nigel Adkins’ side were 3-1 up after 36 minutes thanks to Jay Rodriguez’s tap-in and an Andy Wilkinson own goal.
Matthew Upson’s first goal of the season gave Stoke hope in the second half, but Tony Pulis’ side went down to ten men with 19 minutes to go after Steven N’Zonzi was given a straight red card for a late tackle on Jack Cork.
Pulis threw on Jerome and Peter Crouch in the final stages, and it was Jerome who levelled matters with an instinctive half-volley after Crouch had failed to control Jones’ knockdown.
Stoke had the best defensive record in the Premier League coming into the game, with just 14 goals conceded in 18 games, but the Potters were unable to cope with Southampton’s early attempts to unsettle their defence with crosses behind the back four.
The visitors took the lead in the tenth minute, when Guly Do Prado was allowed time on the left and the Brazilian crossed for Lambert to volley home at the far post.
Stoke, missing the suspended Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron, seemed ill at ease by Southampton’s attempts to play a Stoke-style direct game, and should have not allowed Lambert the space at the back post to poke home his eighth Premier League goal of the season.
The home side levelled in fine style six minutes later when Jones backheeled Ryan Shotton’s cross from the right past Southampton goalkeeper Kelvin Davis at the near post.
Southampton took the lead a second time on 24 minutes through Rodriguez.
Lambert floated in a beautiful cross from the right, which Robert Huth at full stretch deflected onto the bar, allowing the former Burnley striker the chance to tap home.
If Huth was lucky not to concede an own goal, fellow defender Wilkinson was not so fortunate on 36 minutes.
Jason Puncheon's cross from the right gave Lambert the chance to head the ball into the danger area, and Wilkinson put through his own goal under pressure from Rodriguez.
Do Prado had a golden chance to wrap up the game in the 66th minute, but shot wide of an open goal from the loose ball after Stoke goalkeeper Begovic had saved with his feet from Lambert.
They were made to pay almost immediately, as Upson netted with a low drive a minute later after Jose Fonte could only half clear a Jones shot from a corner.
Two minutes later, Fonte was lucky not to concede a penalty when he led with his hand as he climbed for a header with Jones in the area, but referee Mark Clattenburg decided that there was no intent.
Clattenburg was not so lenient in the 70th minute, as he produced a straight red card to N’Zonzi for a horrible foul on Cork.
It is the first time that Clattenburg has shown a red card since the game between Chelsea and Manchester United on 28 October, when he sent off Branislav Ivanovic and then controversially Fernando Torres for a second yellow card dive.
Stoke levelled matters in the final minute when Jerome let fly to complete a six-goal thriller.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jason Puncheon (Southampton): The Southampton winger provided the attacking outlet in the first half, but his defensive work and ball retention in the second half was equally as impressive.
STOKE: Begovic 6; Shotton 6, Huth 5, Upson 6, Wilkinson 5; Kightly 6, Whelan 6, Nzonzi 5, Etherington 6; Walters 7, Jones 7. Subs: Whitehead 7, Crouch 7, Jerome 8.
SOUTHAMPTON: K Davis 7, Yoshida 7, Fonte 7, Hooiveld 7, Shaw 6, Puncheon 8, Schneiderlin 7, Cork 7, Guly 7, Rodriguez 7, Lambert 8. Subs: Subs: Fox 6, Richardson 6.