Manchester City were held to a goalless draw by a brilliant Southampton side in a tense encounter at the Etihad stadium.
The visitors made the stronger start, with Adam Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi each testing Ederson before Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva threatened the Saints goal.
The second half continued in kind, and Southampton thought they had a penalty when Kyle Walker brought down Armstrong in the box only for referee Jon Moss to change his mind after consulting the pitchside monitor.
And despite the entrance of Kevin Be Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez, City were unable to steal a winner with both sides leaving with honours even and Saints holding their heads high after a brilliant performance against the champions.
Saints made a mockery of their underdog status in the first half with an impressive and composed performance as they gave as good as they got.
Armstrong was lively and proved a constant pain for Nathan Ake who struggled with a Saints side which looked comfortable in defence and attack, while falling short of creating any big chances.
And once City had grown into the game they too struggled for a clear look at goal, their best creative moments thwarted with the club’s lack of a striker never more conspicuous.
Southampton continued to threaten, and the visitors thought they had a penalty after Walker and Armstrong clashed inside the City box, but Moss reversed his decision after a short look at the pitchside screen.
City had the ball in the back of the net in injury time, but Raheem Sterling was ruled offside as Saints held on for a deserved point.
TALKING POINT - CITY MISS STRIKER
Manchester City failed to have a shot on target until the dying minutes of this one and every step of the way looked blunt up top against Southampton.
Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Jack Grealish each rotated around the top of the park but none looked capable of providing the kind of deadly touch that the club’s creative moves deserved.
So often a fine cross went wanting with no blue shirts in the right place. It has never been clearer why City chased Harry Kane all summer.
Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City holds off Mohamed Elyounoussi, Manchester City v Southampton, Premier League, Etihad Stadium, Manchester, September 18, 2021