Theo Walcott scored his first Southampton goal for almost 15 years as the Saints played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Wolves.

The on-loan Everton forward netted for the visitors for the first time since January 2006, only for Pedro Neto’s leveller to deny them victory.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side missed the chance to climb into the Premier League’s top four and remain fifth.

Walcott missed a fine chance to make it 2-0 but Alex McCarthy twice denied Daniel Podence after important stops from Nelson Semedo and Leander Dendoncker.

Wolves – who deserved a point – climb to ninth and games against Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Aston Villa before Christmas give them the opportunity to rubber stamp their European credentials.

Conor Coady missed his first league game for the hosts since September 2017 – a 4-0 win at Burton – as he continued to self-isolate due to coronavirus protocols.

The Saints looked to prey on Wolves’ unfamiliar back four early and made a bright start but the hosts were the first to go close when they were twice denied by McCarthy.

Joao Moutinho’s free-kick struck the wall and fell for Semedo but McCarthy parried his stinging drive before a better stop turned Dendoncker’s close-range follow up over.

But Southampton soon found their rhythm and Walcott’s angled effort was gathered by Rui Patricio.

Walcott and Che Adams buzzed around the Wolves defence and, even without the injured Danny Ings, the Saints were more incisive.

With three goals in his last four games the spotlight remained on Adams but he almost turned provider after 31 minutes, slipping in Stuart Armstrong but, under pressure from Max Kilman, the midfielder poked inches wide.

Wolves again lacked serious first-half momentum which would allow them to find a rare goal before the break but McCarthy still needed to be alert after 36 minutes.

Jannik Vestergaard was harshly penalised for a foul on Adama Traore and, when Moutinho fizzed his free-kick in, McCarthy turned Podence’s glancing header over.

He had already comfortably gathered a Traore drive and it was the 60th time in 85 top-flight games Wolves had drawn a first-half blank.

That Southampton had conceded eight of their 12 previous league goals after the break would have also given the hosts encouragement.

Yet McCarthy continued to thwart Wolves and he again denied Podence seven minutes after the restart.

It was a pivotal save as the Saints opened the scoring after 58 minutes.

Wolves were unhappy Armstrong was not pulled up for a foul on Rayan Ait-Nouri but play continued and the ball was worked to Adams.

His initial cross was blocked before he sent the ball back across the six-yard box and Semedo went to sleep to allow Walcott to tap in from close range.

It was his first goal for Saints since netting in the FA Cup against MK Dons as a 16-year-old, 5,434 days ago, and seven minutes later he missed a glorious chance for a second.

Again Adams was the provider, sending the forward clear on the right, but Walcott dragged a poor effort wide.

The miss kept Wolves in the game and they grabbed their lifeline with 15 minutes left.

Raul Jimenez had endured a frustrating game but he found enough space to hit the post from 18 yards and Neto was unmarked to fire in the rebound.

Wolves went for the win but it never came and Jimenez’s header was correctly ruled out for offside before Neto’s low shot was blocked by McCarthy.

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