Southampton ended a run of four straight defeats with an important point against West Ham at St Mary’s in the Premier League.
Both teams had chances in an open, entertaining first half, but it was Saints who struck first through Romain Perraud’s second goal for the club.
The Frenchman, whose first also came against the same opposition, got a bit of help from a deflection as his low 20-yard shot deceived Lukasz Fabianski in the West Ham goal.
Summer signing Gianluca Scamacca kept Saints’ defence honest with a number of efforts on goal, albeit mostly off target, but it was Declan Rice who struck the all-important equaliser in the 64th minute, beating Gavin Bazunu with a precise curling shot.
With the Hammers pushing hard for a winner, Ralph Hasenhüttl made a quadruple substitution that helped stem the flow, as Saints stopped the rot with a point that gives the team a platform to build on ahead of Wednesday’s south-coast showdown at Bournemouth.
Manager Hasenhüttl made two changes to his side that started the defeat to Manchester City last time out, restoring Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elyounoussi to his starting line-up at the expense of Ibrahima Diallo and Stuart Armstrong, who both dropped to the bench.
It was the visitors who were quickest out of the blocks, as Joe Aribo was dispossessed deep inside his own half, before Scamacca laid the ball back for Emerson to strike from 15 yards, but his first-time shot was always veering away from goal.
Saints responded with a couple of early raids of their own. Perraud, whose only goal in English football came in spectacular fashion against the Hammers in last season’s FA Cup tie, fired against the legs of a defender, before Ché Adams hit one rather tamely into the arms of Fabianski.
Adams was looking sharp, brilliantly sweeping the ball out wide for Aribo as Saints mounted another attack soon after, before Elyounoussi’s forward pass into the channel invited Adams to chase and bully Thilo Kehrer, shrugging aside the German international before going eye to eye with Fabianski, but the keeper saved with his legs to keep the visitors on level terms.
West Ham’s reprieve was short lived. After Scamacca fired a fizzing 35-yard warning shot just wide of Bazunu’s left post, Saints took the lead with a goal that left the visitors feeling aggrieved.
Again Adams was involved, using his strength to hold the ball up, before Tomáš Souček sliced his clearance towards the edge of the box, where Jarrod Bowen felt he was impeded by referee Peter Bankes, allowing Perraud to take it off his toes and drill a low shot that took a welcome deflection off Ben Johnson to wrong-foot Fabianski and find the bottom corner.
Back came West Ham, with the dangerous Scamacca again only narrowly off target, before Lucas Paquetá cleared the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Saints were threatening to double the lead with Adams at the heart of it once more, this time with a snapshot on the turn that drew an impressive low save from veteran stopper Fabianski down to his left, before the Pole shut down Elyounoussi on the follow-up.
Saints survived another scare in a helter-skelter first half when Bella-Kotchap made a crucial intervention to briefly hold up Scamacca, sliding in to dispossess the Italian, but he stayed down as West Ham continued the attack, as Scamacca crossed for Paquetá to head back across Bazunu, who watched on as the ball just glanced the post on its way wide.
After a lengthy delay, Bella-Kotchap eventually left the field clutching his shoulder, replaced by Duje Ćaleta-Car three minutes before half time.
In the brief period when Saints were down to 10 men, meanwhile, Adams set the ball back for Elyounoussi to strike clean and true – a low, skidding shot that again brought the best out of Fabianski, who had been the busier keeper.
In Scamacca, scorer of 16 goals in Serie A last season, West Ham seem to have found a gem up front, and his flurry of chances resumed soon after the interval, initially volleying over off his knee as West Ham came out with a spring in their step.
Bazunu had been happy to see most shots fly high and wide, but the Irishman was called upon to parry away Paquetá’s vicious shot, before a Saints counter threatened to double the hosts’ lead.
Adam Armstrong played it smartly, delaying the pass as long as possible before releasing Elyounoussi, who charged down the left, all the way into the penalty area, where his square pass for Adams was crucially intercepted, surely denying a certain goal.
But West Ham had certainly upped the ante, as David Moyes sacrificed a defender to introduce another attacker in Saïd Benrahma – a move that paid off as the substitute played his part in Rice’s equaliser on 64 minutes.
It was clever from Rice, who traded passes with Benrahma on the edge of the box to evade his England teammate Ward-Prowse, and sent a precise curling shot beyond Bazunu’s despairing dive to send the travelling fans into raptures.
The momentum had well and truly swung in favour of the visitors, prompting an unprecedented quadruple substitution from Hasenhüttl 16 minutes from time.
Maitland-Niles, Aribo, Armstrong and Adams were all sacrificed, as Diallo, Stuart Armstrong, Samuel Edozie and Sékou Mara were all summoned in a bid to turn the tide.
The changes helped Saints find a foothold, as a sustained attack culminated in Diallo trying his luck from a long way out with a dipping, swerving shot that only just cleared Fabianski’s crossbar with the keeper worried.
Scamacca finally forced Bazunu into a save with time running out, while Edozie stung the palms of Fabianski at the other end, as an engrossing match-up finished all square.