Southampton twice led but ultimately had to settle for a share of the spoils in an entertaining return to St Mary’s after 26 days away.

Visitors Leicester were stunned by Jan Bednarek’s third-minute opener, and fell behind for a second time to a diving header from Leicester-born Ché Adams later in the first half.

But twice the Foxes rallied to equalise, firstly through Jonny Evans, who followed in a parried shot, and secondly through James Maddison four minutes into the second period.

Whilst Saints enjoyed the best of the first half, the visitors were much improved after the interval and were only denied maximum points by an excellent Alex McCarthy save to deny Harvey Barnes, before Jamie Vardy blazed a golden chance over the bar with 15 minutes left.

Ralph Hasenhüttl made three changes to his starting line-up, including only a second Premier League start of the season for Nathan Tella, who began on the left flank with Nathan Redmond, also earning a recall, on the opposite side.

Elsewhere, Kyle Walker-Peters was restored to the XI at left-back, as Saints reverted to a back four with Romain Perraud, Lyanco and Armando Broja dropping to the bench.

Saints may have been on the receiving end of an early goal at Anfield on Saturday, but it was they who flew out of the traps on their first return to St Mary’s in four weeks.

Straight from kick-off the hosts won a free-kick just inside the Leicester half. James Ward-Prowse played it short and Oriol Romeu floated a diagonal ball into the box that was headed back across goal by Bednarek for Adams, but the striker’s header lacked the necessary power to trouble Kasper Schmeichel.

A strong surge from midfield by Ward-Prowse soon won a corner, from which again Saints opted to go short.

This time the smart thinking was rewarded with a goal, as Tella combined with the skipper before sending a low cross into the box for Mohammed Salisu to force a diving save from Schmeichel, who was helpless to prevent the ball bouncing off his legs for Bednarek to smuggle it into the net on the rebound.

Leicester had started slowly but began to warm to their task with Maddison the architect for much of their attacking threat.

The England international delivered one teasing free-kick that was steered narrowly wide by Wilfred Ndidi, though the offside flag was subsequently raised in any case.

Then Bednarek had to do some trademark last-ditch defending to prevent a low cross reaching the ever-dangerous Vardy, but it came at the expense of the corner from which the visitors drew level.

When Maddison’s cross was half-cleared to Ndidi, the Nigerian’s low shot was parried by McCarthy straight to Evans, who gleefully drove in the equaliser.

Saints responded with a positive burst from Kyle Walker-Peters, who stepped inside on to his stronger right foot and sent a curling shot that had Schmeichel scampering across his goal, relieved to see the ball sail past his left-hand post.

Hasenhüttl would have been buoyed by his team’s response to the setback. Adam Armstrong fed Adams, who sent a low shot harmlessly into the gloves of Schmeichel, but Saints were back in the ascendancy.

They had clearly been doing their homework from set-pieces, as another corner was played short, this time creating a chance for Redmond, whose shot was blocked, but Saints kept the attack alive as Walker-Peters soon spread the play wide.

Redmond, back out on the right, sent in a peach of a cross that was begging for a touch and Adams duly provided it, stretching every sinew to connect with a diving header that bounced into the net.

It was the in-form Scot’s sixth goal in eight games for club and country, and the first of his career against his hometown club.

Redmond might have helped himself to another impressive assist when he played a clever reverse pass to complete a one-two with Ward-Prowse, who was absolutely everywhere in the first half, but crowded out before he could pull the trigger on this occasion.

Ward-Prowse’s relentless energy was evident again when he robbed Leicester of possession on the edge of their own box, picking out Tella with a perfect cross only for the youngster to mistime his header, which was way off target from a position of promise.

Saints were made to pay for the miss. Maddison, who has rediscovered his form of late, drove into the box, jinked inside the sliding challenge of Tino Livramento and buried a low shot inside McCarthy’s near post to bring the Foxes back on level terms for the second time in the match.

When Maddison’s free-kick was guided just over by Vardy, Leicester underlined their intent to turn the game on its head with the second half – delayed due to a medical emergency in the crowd – only a handful of minutes old.

After Vardy threatened again, heading wide from a Barnes cross, Hasenhüttl sensed the tide had turned and called for Broja to reinforce his frontline, withdrawing Tella and pushing Armstrong to the wing.

With 20 minutes to go Saints were exposed when Barnes nipped in front of Salisu and went eye to eye with McCarthy, only for the keeper to pull off an outstanding save, diving to his right, tipping the ball past the post and coming to claim the resulting corner to rapturous applause.

Mohamed Elyounoussi was introduced as Saints’ second substitute, replacing Armstrong, and immediately took the game to Leicester with a run and shot, but he did not connect quite as he wished, dragging the chance wide from 20 yards.

At the other end, Vardy was racing in behind the Saints defence and ought to have given his side the lead for the first time, but his shot from the inside-left channel uncharacteristically cleared the crossbar as the hosts survived a major scare.

Both teams pushed for a late winner, as Adams threaded the eye of a needle to find Broja in the box, but the Albanian was unable to pull the trigger, before Leicester broke at pace and McCarthy was called upon to thwart substitute Ayoze Pérez, whose low shot was bound for the bottom corner.