Just as it seemed that the Saints would come away with the point they deserved for their sheer grit, Neil Heaney played a ball towards nobody in particular and Steve McManaman, first given his chance during Souness's ill-fated days as Liverpool manager, pounced to take the ball around Dave Beasant and stroke it into the net.
On chances created, it was Liverpool's due reward; but Southampton also merited something for the way they fought their way back into a match during which they had been spectators in the first half.
Much of the attention was inevitably focused on how Souness would make his entrance at the scene of so many of his triumphs - and a few of his traumas - and how he would be received.
The reception was a mixture of 10 parts applause to one part churlish jeers, proof perhaps that he is more vividly remembered at Liverpool as a player than as a manager. "I was very pleased with my welcome," Souness said. "I learned my trade here and I will always have a great affection for this club and its supporters. I'm very pleased with the way I was treated here today - apart from the last minute."
Liverpool were less welcoming on the field during the first half. They had a goalbound header from Mark Wright cleared off the line and saw Robbie Fowler's 25-yard snapshot come back off the the bar before they went ahead seven minutes from the interval.
Jason McAteer, whose distribution from deep had already caught the eye, sent John Barnes away and, when he put the ball into the area, Stan Collymore was on hand to hook it back into the corner of Beasant's net.
Souness took off the ineffective Matthew Le Tissier as a precaution when he felt a twinge in his hamstring and also replaced McManaman's marker, Neil Maddison, at half-time.
The changes made them look far more purposeful, but it was still a monumental surprise when they drew level, Jim Magilton playing a one-two with Neil Shipperley to leave David James's goal exposed.
There were hints that Southampton might even do the unthinkable by snatching a winner as Liverpool brought on Patrik Berger for his first appearance, a move almost rewarded when the Czech thudded a header into Beasant's midriff.
It seemed that save might be crucial until McManaman's opportunism wiped the smile off the face of an old Liverpool hero.Reuse content