Aston Villa vs Southampton: Ronald Koeman hails attacking qualities of England's newest defender Nathaniel Clyne

The result leaves Chelsea six points clear at the top of the Premier League

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The Independent Football

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman hailed England's newest defender for his attacking qualities after Nathaniel Clyne scored his third goal of the season to rescue a point at Aston Villa.

Clyne, who made his England debut at right back in last week's Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia, showed a forward's finishing quality to equalise nine minutes from time, meeting fellow full back Ryan Bertrand's cross to sidefoot the ball home from 12 yards.

It cancelled out Gabby Agbonlahor's first-half goal for Villa following an error by England goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

"I like to have offensive defenders and it was important for us that Clyne showed his attacking quality because the forwards had a difficult evening," Koeman said.

"The England call-up will have given him confidence but I believed anyway that he is the best right back in the Premier League.

"After the mistake gave them the 1-0 Villa were able to do less attacking and more defending and it was difficult for us. We lacked a bit of quality in the last pass or the last cross but we stayed patient and we knew that if we keep our organisation we always score.

"The goal came late but we deserved it."

Forster handed Villa their 29th-minute lead when he made a late decision to race out of his penalty area as Agbonlahor chased a clearance from the Villa defence and failed to reach the ball ahead of the Villa striker, who went past him to shoot into an unguarded net.  It was the first goal he had conceded in 429 minutes of action for Southampton.

"It was a bad mistake," Koeman said. "Fraser started to come out and stopped and if you stop you are too late.  But he is a great goalkeeper and this mistake doesn't change that."

The result leaves Chelsea six points clear at the top of the Premier League and Koeman believes they are unlikely to be caught, although he thinks second-placed Southampton have the capability to remain in the leading group.

"Chelsea are the team to beat. They have quality in all parts of their game and they have no weaknesses.  It is up to us to keep our position and believe in our way of playing.

"After 37 games I don't believe we will still be second -- but maybe third."

Villa manager Paul Lambert was delighted with a point -- only his side's second in eight matches -- although after Andreas Weimann missed a chance that would have given Villa a 2-0 lead with 11 minutes left he had mixed emotions.

"Against a side in the form Southampton have been in and with the money they have spent compared with us you have to be pleased with a point," he said.

"But if Andy scores we would have won the game."