Southampton maintained their one-point advantage over Championship promotion rivals Cardiff with a hard-fought draw.
Craig Conway had given third-placed Cardiff the lead at St Mary's, scoring from eight yards after a Peter Whittingham corner fell kindly for him.
Saints upped the pressure as they sought to keep hold of second place and were awarded a penalty for handball.
Adam Lallana's cross hit Kevin McNaughton on the arm and Rickie Lambert blasted the spot-kick home.
But the draw helped both sides close the gap on Championship leaders West Ham, after the London side's surprise 5-1 drubbing at Ipswich .
The home side started brightly, with Lambert putting in a star turn as he peppered the Cardiff goal - first with a long shot that dropped inches wide then two good headers just over the crossbar.
Southampton thought they should have had a penalty when Lambert was pulled to the ground in the area, but referee Mark Haywood waved away appeals.
Top of the Championship
* Correct at 31 January 2012
Cardiff snatched the lead from their first chance, as goalkeeper Kelvin Davis struggled to punch clear from a Whittingham corner.
The ball dropped to Conway lurking eight yards out and the midfielder rifled the ball into an unguarded net.
Andrew Taylor's long-range strike was punched away by Davis, while Lallana blazed wide twice in quick succession at the other end before the break.
Nigel Adkins' side started the second half with renewed purpose and after Lallana had another strong penalty appeal turned down, Saints were finally awarded a spot-kick when the same player's cross was adjudged to have been handled by McNaughton.
Lambert stepped up and made no mistake, slamming the ball hard and straight past David Marshall for his 19th goal of the season.
Southampton pushed hard for a winner but were almost caught when Bluebirds striker Kenny Miller fired over from 12 yards.
Cardiff wasted another chance to snatch it when Aron Gunnarsson was wayward with a left-footed drive from just inside the area, but at the other end the busy Lallana saw a close-range effort scrambled away by Marshall to keep honours even.
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins: "I've watched the video and we had two stonewall penalties turned down before [the penalty that was awarded].
"That said, it was a good point and I thought we played some good football in the second half and created some good chances.
"We could have won, but with West Ham being beaten so heavily there's still plenty for us - and Cardiff - to play for."
Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay told BBC Radio Wales: "I was delighted. They had to change their shape to get back into the game as the home team, and when they do attack they attack in numbers.
"You've really got to stand up and block, make sure you defend properly and pick up your runners, which is what we did tonight.
"A full-strength Southampton took us on tonight at their place, we locked horns and both butted heads and came out with a creditable point each."
- 01 Davis
- 02 Richardson
- 06 Fonte
- 13 Fox
- 16 Martin
- 04 Schneiderlin Booked
- 08 Cork
- 20 Lallana
- 42 Puncheon (Lee - 61' )
- 07 Lambert
- 22 Connolly (Hammond - 87' )
- 21 Bialkowski
- 03 Harding
- 14 Hammond
- 27 Falque
- 19 Lee
- 01 Marshall
- 02 McNaughton
- 03 Taylor
- 06 Gerrard
- 25 Turner
- 07 Whittingham Booked
- 08 Cowie
- 11 Conway (Gestede - 62' )
- 17 Gunnarsson
- 37 McPhail (Kiss - 78' )
- 09 Miller
- 22 Heaton
- 04 Kiss
- 23 Blake
- 15 Gestede
- 20 Mason
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee signals the end of the game.90:00 +1:28
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Daniel Fox.90:00 +1:11
Adam Lallana takes a shot. Save by David Marshall.90:00 +0:45 Booking
Booking Caution for Peter Whittingham.90:00 +0:34
Unfair challenge on Morgan Schneiderlin by Peter Whittingham results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Daniel Fox.86:38 Substitution
Substitution David Connolly goes off and Dean Hammond comes on.85:20
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Don Cowie from the left by-line, Jose Fonte makes a clearance.84:17
Aron Gunnarsson takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the bar.83:32
David Connolly challenges Andrew Taylor unfairly and gives away a free kick. Andrew Taylor restarts play with the free kick.81:50
Corner taken by Daniel Fox from the right by-line, clearance by Anthony Gerrard.80:33
Corner taken by Daniel Fox, clearance by Aron Gunnarsson.79:44
Shot from inside the area by Kenny Miller clears the bar.79:09
The ball is crossed by Frazer Richardson, save made by David Marshall.77:31
Corner taken right-footed by Don Cowie, Aaron Martin manages to make a clearance.77:03 Substitution
Substitution Stephen McPhail leaves the field to be replaced by Filip Kiss.74:54
The ball is delivered by Frazer Richardson, Adam Lallana takes a shot. Save made by David Marshall.73:42
Anthony Gerrard challenges Tadanari Lee unfairly and gives away a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Daniel Fox.69:27
Corner taken by Daniel Fox from the right by-line.68:44
Adam Lallana takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Kenny Miller.68:17
Kenny Miller is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Kelvin Davis.
Tadanari Lee is caught offside. David Marshall takes the indirect free kick.65:30
Corner taken by Daniel Fox.63:42
Frazer Richardson sends in a cross.62:45
David Connolly concedes a free kick for a foul on Andrew Taylor. Andrew Taylor restarts play with the free kick.61:35 Substitution
Substitution Rudy Gestede comes on in place of Craig Conway.60:17 Substitution
Substitution Tadanari Lee is brought on as a substitute for Jason Puncheon.60:00
Peter Whittingham takes a long range shot harmlessly clearing the crossbar.58:10
Corner taken right-footed by Don Cowie, clearance made by Jose Fonte.56:59 Goal scored
Goal! - Richard Lambert - Southamp'n 1 - 1 Cardiff Penalty taken right-footed by Richard Lambert and scored. Southampton 1-1 Cardiff.55:27
Kevin McNaughton is penalised for handball and concedes a .54:36
Corner taken left-footed by Daniel Fox from the right by-line, Aron Gunnarsson makes a clearance.48:36
Kenny Miller is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Jose Fonte.48:08
Jason Puncheon takes a shot. Save by David Marshall.46:20
The ball is delivered by Kevin McNaughton.45:01
The referee starts the second half.45:00 +2:24 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.45:00 +1:29
Adam Lallana has a shot on goal from outside the area which misses left.45:00 +0:28
Shot from just outside the box by Adam Lallana misses to the right of the goal.41:59
Andrew Taylor takes a shot. Save by Kelvin Davis.41:26
Frazer Richardson concedes a free kick for a foul on Don Cowie. Peter Whittingham takes the indirect free kick.40:59
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Adam Lallana by Don Cowie. Daniel Fox takes the indirect free kick.39:38
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jason Puncheon on Craig Conway. Ben Turner takes the free kick.39:38 Booking
Booking Morgan Schneiderlin is given a yellow card.38:50
Effort on goal by Kenny Miller from just inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.35:58
Peter Whittingham provided the assist for the goal.35:58 Goal scored
Goal! - Craig Conway - Southamp'n 0 - 1 Cardiff Craig Conway gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the penalty area low into the middle of the goal. Southampton 0-1 Cardiff.35:26
Peter Whittingham takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post,33:53
Unfair challenge on Craig Conway by Frazer Richardson results in a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Andrew Taylor.31:47
Corner taken by Daniel Fox, Richard Lambert produces a header from deep inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.30:46
The referee blows for offside against Richard Lambert. David Marshall takes the indirect free kick.28:12
The assistant referee signals for offside against Kenny Miller. Aaron Martin restarts play with the free kick.26:47
The official flags Kenny Miller offside. Free kick taken by Kelvin Davis.21:41
The ball is delivered by Jason Puncheon.18:12
Unfair challenge on Jack Cork by Craig Conway results in a free kick. Jose Fonte restarts play with the free kick.14:58
Jason Puncheon challenges Kevin McNaughton unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Don Cowie.12:54
Close range headed effort by Richard Lambert clears the crossbar.11:17
The offside flag is raised against Kenny Miller. Indirect free kick taken by Kelvin Davis.8:58
Free kick awarded for a foul by Morgan Schneiderlin on Aron Gunnarsson. Andrew Taylor takes the indirect free kick.6:00
The offside flag is raised against Kenny Miller. Kelvin Davis takes the indirect free kick.3:19
Corner taken by Peter Whittingham from the right by-line.1:55
Effort from outside the penalty box by Richard Lambert goes wide left of the goal.1:18
Header from deep inside the penalty area by Aron Gunnarsson goes harmlessly over the crossbar.0:00
The referee gets the match started.
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