Seeking to move on from the resignation of chairman Nicola Cortese on Wednesday, Southampton took a fourth-minute lead through Jay Rodriguez at the Stadium of Light.

Dejan Lovren made it 2-0 just beyond the half hour, but Fabio Borini reduced the arrears straight away before Johnson smashed home the equaliser mid-way through the second period.

The goal took Johnson's tally to four goals in two games, following his hat-trick in last weekend's 4-1 win at Fulham, but it was not enough to take Gus Poyet's side out of the relegation zone.

Southampton remain ninth, but the point gained in the north-east came at a cost after manager Mauricio Pochettino lost first Gaston Ramirez and then Lovren to injury in the dying stages.

Sunderland were also looking for positive headlines after sacking director of football Roberto De Fanti on Friday, but they had barely touched the ball when Southampton went ahead.

Morgan Schneiderlin's pass was only half-cleared and Rodriguez showed excellent control to pluck the ball out of the air before arrowing a half-volley into the bottom-left corner from outside the box.

The hosts looked in danger of being swept away as Southampton pressed forward, with Johnson deflecting a Luke Shaw cross against the post and Rickie Lambert shooting wide after a slick one-two with Schneiderlin.

Rodriguez squandered an opportunity to add a second goal when he shot straight at Vito Mannone after Lambert robbed Wes Brown, but in the 31st minute the visitors did strike again.

Steven Davis sent an out-swinging corner into the box from the right and Lovren held off Brown to hook an excellent mid-air volley into the bottom-left corner.

Sunderland manager Poyet wore a grim expression on the touchline, but from nowhere his side hit back.

Just a minute after Lovren had scored, Johnson curled a cross into the box from the right and Borini chested it down before squeezing a low shot past Artur Boruc.

It was Southampton who continued to make all the running, however, with Mannone saving from Lambert, Calum Chambers, Rodriguez, Jose Fonte and Shaw either side of half-time.

Sunderland thought they had levelled against the run of play in the 64th minute, but Borini's celebrations were cut short by an offside flag after he had tucked the ball past Boruc.

They did not have to wait long for a goal, however, as seven minutes later Johnson drifted past Shaw and let rip with a rising right-foot shot that surprised Boruc at his near post.

The Polish goalkeeper partly atoned by saving smartly from Craig Gardner and Steven Fletcher, but a miserable end to the match for the visitors saw substitute Ramirez and Lovren stretchered off.