Southampton were unable to make their numerical advantage count as they played to a 1-1 draw with 10-man Watford in their opening fixture of the Premier League campaign on Saturday afternoon.
- Southampton 1 Watford 1
- Capoue fires Hornets in front on 9 mins
- Redmond scores on debut to level matters
- Watford's Watson sees red on 76 mins
- Saints fail to convert late chances
The Hornets claimed the lead in the ninth minute through Etienne Capoue's ferocious volley, skipper Troy Deeney providing the assist.
Southampton rallied after the break, though, with Nathan Redmond slotting home on his debut to put the hosts back on level terms in the 58th minute.
However, despite seeing Watford's Ben Watson red carded for a professional foul on 76 minutes, the Saints were unable to find a late winner.
Claude Puel's first game in charge ends all-square at St Mary's. pic.twitter.com/JRAb3YqyBF
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) August 13, 2016
The Saints made a flying start to the game and very nearly claimed the lead after just two minutes of play, Dusan Tadic seeing his goal-bound effort kept out by Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes, before Virgil van Dijk fired inches wide of the left-hand post.
However, it was Watford who would go on to break the deadlock in the ninth minute of play. Nordin Amrabat fired in a hanging cross toward Troy Deeney at the back post, and the striker sent a cushioned header back towards the centre of goal, where Capoue shrugged clear of his marker before smashing home on the volley.
The Hornets continued to press forward as they went in search of a second, Amrabat and José Holebas both firing wide of the mark from outside the box.
Southampton eventually managed to regain their composure as the half wore on, though, with James Ward-Prowse, Shane Long and Nathan Redmond all going close to netting an equaliser.
They had one more chance to draw level on the stroke of half-time, but Cédric Soares saw his goal-bound effort kept out by Gomes in the Watford goal.
The Saints picked up where they left off after the break, putting the Watford defence under sustained pressure.
Steven Davis and Dusan Tadic were both denied a shot on goal by a last-ditch tackle, before debutant Redmond finally got the all-important breakthrough in the 58th minute. Gomes, who was one of Watford's more reliable players last season, was at fault for the equaliser as his punched clearance only fell as far as Redmond, who volleyed into the bottom-left corner from the centre of the box.
Southampton had a glorious opportunity to grab the lead just three minutes later, but Maya Yoshida saw his header fly just over the crossbar.
Watford hit back with two quick-fire efforts shortly thereafter, Adlène Guédioura shooting wide of the left-hand post, before Capoue lashed a long-range effort wide of the mark.
However, the Hornets were dealt a blow in the 76th minute when Ben Watson hauled Shane Long to the ground, promoting the referee to brandish the red card. While Watson's red card was most certainly unwanted, his timely intervention proved crucial as he denied Long a one-on-one chance against the keeper.
Despite being reduced to ten men, Watford managed to hold firm in the closing stages of the contest as Southampton failed to convert a handful of late chances.