Sunderland's Fabio Borini (second from left) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Southampton. Picture: AP Photo/Scott Heppell

London – Southampton were denied a morale-boosting victory after relegation-threatened Sunderland hit back from 2-0 down to record a 2-2 draw in an engaging Premier League encounter on Saturday.

Rocked by the resignation of chairman Nicola Cortese on Wednesday, Southampton made a breezy start at the Stadium of Light and looked to have taken control with first-half goals from Jay Rodriguez and Dejan Lovren.

However, the hosts replied immediately through Fabio Borini and went on to claim a share of the points in the 71st minute when Adam Johnson beat Artur Boruc at his near post with a rising drive.

While victory would have taken Sunderland out of the relegation zone, they have now been beaten only once in their last seven league games. Southampton, meanwhile, remain ninth.

Arsenal will look to preserve their hold on first place later on Saturday when they welcome London rivals Fulham to the Emirates Stadium.

Should Arsene Wenger's side fail to win, Manchester City could take over at the top by winning at home to Cardiff City.

Liverpool, meanwhile, could close to within a point of third-place Chelsea if they overcome Aston Villa in the day's late game at Anfield. Chelsea host Manchester United in the weekend's stand-out game on Sunday. – Sapa-AFP