SAINTS produced an impressive resolute display to take a point off free-scoring Premier League champions Manchester City – and it could have been even better.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were good value for their 0-0 draw at Etihad Stadium, but were denied a golden chance for all three points following a controversial VAR call.

Saints were awarded a penalty on the hour mark after Adam Armstrong went down under Kyle Walker’s challenge. The England full-back was also shown a red card. However, after consulting with video assistant Martin Atkinson, referee Jonathan Moss overturned both his decisions, with no spot-kick awarded.

City pushed for a late winner and thought they had snatched it when Raheem Sterling bundled home, but the goal was ruled out for offside as Pep Guardiola’s men were left to settle for a point.

Hasenhuttl made three changes from last weekend’s goalless draw with West Ham United. In came Kyle Walker-Peters to replace Romain Perraud at left-back, while Jan Bednarek and Che Adams were preferred to Mohammed Salisu and Moussa Djenepo. The pair, who had started every Premier League game this campaign prior to today, dropped to the bench.

City came into the game having scored 16 goals in their past three home matches, including Wednesday night’s 6-3 Champions League win over RB Leipzig.

But they struggled to create any early openings against Saints.

The visitors were arguably the better side for the opening quarter of an hour, admittedly without working keeper Ederson.

But City began to work their way back into the contest, turning the screw midway through the half. Ilkay Gundogan headed over the crossbar, before a vital intervention from Bednarek denied Sterling a tap-in.

Bednarek then got his head in the way of a Gabriel Jesus half-volley, before Saints were forced into a change. The solid back-line was disrupted eight minutes before the break when Jack Stephens was forced off injured and replaced by Salisu.

But it did not stop Saints from seeing the half through still goalless, even having an opportunity to net themselves with Moi Elyounoussi’s effort comfortably stopped by Ederson.

Both sides created half chances early in the second period, Jesus curling over before Adams dragged an effort wide as frustration grew among the home fans.

But the atmosphere completely changed after a dramatic couple of minutes. Saints looked to have been awarded a penalty when Armstrong went down under a clumsy-looking challenge from Walker. Referee Moss also showed Walker a red card, before consulting the pitchside monitor following a review by video assistant referee Atkinson.

Upon review, Moss withdrew the red card and also decided against awarding a penalty.

City fans were rejuvenated even further by the quick-fire introductions of star trio Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden off the bench.

But, in truth, the hosts rarely looked like picking the lock of Saints’ well-organised defence.

That was until the final minute. After Alex McCarthy got down well to stop a Foden header, Sterling followed in to score. The Etihad erupted, only for an offside flag to deny them. A lengthy VAR check confirmed the decision as the game ended goalless.

Saints: McCarthy; Livramento (Perraud, 86), Stephens (Salisu, 37), Bednarek, Walker-Peters; Ward-Prowse, Romeu; Elyounoussi, Redmond; Adams (Broja, 68), A Armstrong.

Unused subs: Valery, Lyanco, Diallo, Djenepo, Tella, Forster (g/k).

Booked: Walker-Peters, Livramento.

Man City: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake, Cancelo; Fernandinho (De Bruyne, 65), Gundogan, Silva (Foden, 72); Sterling, Grealish, Jesus (Mahrez, 67).

Unused subs: Mbete, Lavia, Wilson-Esbrand, Torres, Palmer, Carson (g/k).

Booked: None.

Referee: Jonathan Moss.

VAR: Martin Atkinson.