Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel headlined City’s team news as he captained the side on his 400th appearance for the Club in all competitions, while manager Brendan Rodgers was able to welcome back attacking midfielder Maddison and striker Jamie Vardy after they sat out last weekend’s 4-0 win at Stoke City.
After a tightly-contested opening 15 minutes, it took a fine piece of defending from Youri Tielemans to block Che Adams’ cross after the Saints striker broke away and burst into the City box.
That prompted the hosts to respond swiftly, and after Vardy dummied Marc Albrighton’s delivery, it opened up for Barnes on his left foot just inside the Southampton area, but the Academy graduate couldn’t beat Alex McCarthy, who parried the ball to safety.
At the other end of the pitch, on 23 minutes, Schmeichel was called into action as Adams sent a powerful drive towards goal that the Denmark international stopper was equal to, while a last-ditch clearance from Jonny Evans denied Theo Walcott a goalscoring opportunity five minutes later.
Maddison then lifted over as the game edged closer to the half-hour mark, before Schmeichel had to be quick on his feet to race out and prevent Adams from latching onto a long ball over the top of the City defence.
It was Leicester who struck the first blow, though, as they continued to get Maddison on the ball. Tielemans played the No.10 in before he worked it onto his right foot and rifled the ball past McCarthy from a tight angle with seven minutes of the first half to play.
Southampton targeted an immediate reply, but Adams' well-struck effort forced Schmeichel into a superb stop on a landmark appearance for the 34-year-old 'keeper.
Barnes then attempted to curl the ball into the bottom corner, but he couldn't get enough purchase on his strike and McCarthy was able to watch the attempt fly wide of his left-hand post.
Southampton signalled their intent at the beginning of the second period, with Schmeichel denying William Smallbone inside the opening 60 seconds before Walcott put the rebound wide.
Having previously been booked in the first half, Ibrahima Diallo was fortunate to remain on the pitch when he pulled back Maddison's shirt, but no second yellow card was produced.
On 53 minutes, Rodgers made his first substitution of the match as Turkey international defender Çağlar Söyüncü made his 10th appearance of 2020/21 for club and country after replacing Wesley Fofana - on a booking - in a like-for-like change.
A looping header from Vardy followed on 62 minutes after a tidy phase of play eventually saw Barnes deliver into the No.9, who couldn't direct his effort on target.
The Leicester striker threatened again a minute later as Maddison led a counter-attack, but after cutting onto his left foot, he saw his strike blocked in the Saints box.
Two more opportunities for the 2019/20 Premier League Golden Boot winner followed, as he first lifted a lob over before nodding onto the roof of the net.
Schmeichel had to be alert just moments later as he smothered the ball to halt the run of Stuart Armstrong, while Timothy Castagne headed over from a Maddison corner with 20 minutes to play.
Ralph Hasenhüttl's men then rattled the woodwork via a long-range effort from Armstrong as City continued to repel their opponents' advances in an attempt to record their first Premier League home win in over a month.
Indeed, the points could have been secured with a quarter-of-an-hour to play, when Barnes directed an effort on goal, but Jan Bednarek was positioned well to make a goalline clearance.
Rodgers, a minute later, injected fresh legs into the Leicester attack, bringing on Ayoze Pérez in place of goalscorer Maddison.
Southampton maintained their quest for a leveller as opposition skipper James Ward-Prowse sliced high and wide of Schmeichel's bar with a little over 10 minutes remaining.
A wonderful piece of play from Pérez followed, as the Spaniard drifted past Ward-Prowse and Jack Stephens and curled into Vardy, who controlled with his chest before Bednarek got in the way of the frontman's effort.
Only a brilliant save from McCarthy prevented Vardy from doubling Leicester's advantage on 85 minutes as the England stopper spread himself well to block the striker's left-footed attempt.
Then, with only 20 seconds of the 90 minutes remaining, Pérez lifted over the bar, while Vardy made way for Kelechi Iheanacho as the fourth official's board signalled five minutes of added time.
In the 94th minute, the Saints came forward, but Armstrong's wayward effort failed to trouble Schmeichel and City raced up the other end, on the break, to round off a deserved triumph.
Tielemans won the ball in midfield and slipped in Barnes, who helped himself to his 10th goal of the season in all competitions by tucking it into the bottom corner.
The England international midfielder unleashed a fearsome drive into the top corner to open the scoring.
It was James Maddison's moment of brilliance that initially edged Leicester City ahead of Southampton in a fiercely-contested clash on Filbert Way.
As he slipped past his marker and into the right-hand channel, he had the composure and execution to hammer the ball past Alex McCarthy at the near post.
Jonny Evans impressed LCFC Radio's Matt Elliott during the 2-0 win over Southampton.
Speaking on LCFC Radio, co-commentator Matt Elliott, on the 24th anniversary of his transfer to the Club, said: “It was very good all round. In the engine room, Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi were absolutely crucial. One particular player, if you’re talking about stand-outs, the longer the game went on, the more influence Jonny Evans had and he was crucial in keeping Southampton at bay."
Where do we stand?
Harvey Barnes slots in past Alex McCarthy in injury time to wrap up the win against Southampton.
After 18 matches in 2020/21, the Foxes sit second in the Premier League table with 35 points and a goal difference of +12.
They are now only a point behind leaders Manchester United, who face third-placed Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.
Kasper Schmeichel registered a clean sheet on his 400th appearance for the Foxes.
A second Premier League outing at King Power Stadium in the space of only four days follows for City on Tuesday, when Chelsea visit Filbert Way (8:15pm kick-off), before the Foxes head to Brentford on Sunday 24 January for their Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round tie (2:15pm kick-off).
All times GMT.
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