Sergio Aguero netted in the 10th minute for Manuel Pellegrini's side but, after briefly threatening to extend their lead, were pegged back by a resilient Saints performance
Sergio Aguero continued his fine goalscoring form with a swift strike, finding space inside the box before side-footing Aleksandar Kolarov's low cross into the net to cap a well-worked team goal.
Despite City's first-half dominance, Southampton levelled the scores just before half-time through their club-record signing; the Italian forward tricked his way towards goal before curling a stunning strike into the far corner.
|VIEW FROM ST MARY'S
|By George Ankers
A very entertaining match at St Mary's Stadium sees Southampton emerge pleased with a point but certainly feeling that they could and, really, should have had all three.
Manchester City looked ominous early on against a depleted home XI and Sergio Aguero scored a solid goal almost by reflex but the home side's shedding of their nerves was visible and impressive as they grew into firm control of the game.
Dani Osvaldo's magnificent equaliser just before half-time was just reward for that but, despite a series of nearly-great chances in the second period, Mauricio Pochettino's men could not find the breakthrough for a second.
Manuel Pellegrini's attempts to change shape proved largely ineffectual as City struggled to cope with Southampton's confident work, with Samir Nasri a particular culprit of the wilting curse. Their poor away record continues - or is a point here a good result these days?
James Milner and Alvaro Negredo, meanwhile, were recalled to the Manchester City starting XI and the latter almost netted after six minutes, but was let down by a heavy touch after strike partner Aguero played him in on goal.
Steven Davis scored in both matches against City last season and came close to extending that run, but dragged an early shot wide before the vistors made an early breakthrough.
Samir Nasri teed-up Kolarov down the left flank and the overlapping full-back's low cross was clinically dispatched first time by Aguero for a 17th goal in 15 matches.
Kolarov then glanced wide himself from a Nasri corner three minutes later and Aguero blazed Pablo Zabaleta's 31st-minute cut-back over, but they were rare moments of encouragement for City.
Adam Lallana was involved in much of Southampton's best work but could not bring down Chambers' lofted pass in time to avoid Milner's last-ditch clearance.
The England man and James Ward-Prowse both failed to convert a Luke Shaw cross and another dangerous delivery from the same player was headed wide by fellow full-back Chambers in the 37th minute before Southampton levelled in magnificent fashion.
Osvaldo superbly brought down Davis' long pass and turned Vincent Kompany inside out to arch a shot into the top-far corner via the underside of the crossbar.
Nasri almost gave City a lead they scarcely deserved in first-half stoppage time, firing over after being picked out by Milner, but they resumed impressively as Paulo Gazzaniga got down well to thwart Aguero and Yaya Toure barrelled through a congested midfield to smash narrowly wide.
Osvaldo passed up a far simpler opportunity than the one he scored from in the 53rd minute, lifting a loose ball over after Costel Pantilimon dashed out to stop the rampaging Jay Rodriguez. The pair were giving City real problems.
Pellegrini moved to reinforce his over-run midfield as holding player Javi Garcia was introduced alongside Jesus Navas in place of Negredo and Milner on the hour-mark, and Aguero raced outside Jose Fonte to shoot past the far post five minutes later.
But City's Argentinean talisman was restricted to half chances thereafter and they could be eight points behind Arsenal when the leaders arrive at the Etihad Stadium next Saturday.