Manolo Gabbiadini marked his return to Southampton’s side by scoring both goals as battling Saints twice came from behind to deny Newcastle United victory in an entertaining game at St Mary’s.
Isaac Hayden fired the Magpies ahead from 25 yards after goalkeeper Fraser Forster was left flat-footed before Joselu was denied from making it 2-0 by the bar.
Saints conjured up a rare home goal through Gabbiadini’s shot on the turn only for Newcastle to restore their lead 87 seconds later, Ayoze Perez finding the net from an angle after Forster had spilled the Spaniard’s initial shot.
Newcastle were denied victory when Gabbiadini, starting for the first time since 9 September, scored from the penalty spot after Florian Lejeune needlessly bundled over Shane Long.
Southampton had failed to score in eight of their past nine Premier League home games – and they failed to muster a shot on target in the first half in this game.
Yet Mauricio Pellegrino was rewarded for his decision to restore Gabbiadini to the side as the Italian scored twice in 26 minutes to deny Newcastle a rare top-flight away win.
It looked like another frustrating game as Dusan Tadic, unmarked inside the six-yard area, headed tamely over the bar with the match goalless before Hayden fired the visitors ahead.
Southampton have won once in six league games but this gritty performance in front of their own fans was just what was needed after back-to-back defeats.
Forster will feel he should have done better for both goals, the England keeper having committed himself early when Hayden pulled the trigger before failing to hold Perez’s shot.
Yet Lejeune’s clumsy challenge on Long saved Forster’s blushes and gifted Saints a point which moves them up to 10th in the table.
Newcastle were on course for a second win in 15 Premier League away games when French defender Lejeune gifted the hosts a penalty.
Long was not in a goalscoring position when the foul was committed yet Benitez’s side were made to pay.
Whereas the battling 1-1 draw against Liverpool in their previous game felt like a win, this will have felt like two points lost.
Lejeune almost made amends for his error in the dying moments but substitute Steven Davis was well placed to hack his header off the line.
Benitez’s side produced a spirited display after the negative headlines of the training ground spat between Jamaal Lascelles and Mohamed Diame, which resulted in Jonjo Shelvey wearing a cast to protect a broken finger in this game.