Southampton Under-23s maintained their unbeaten start to the Premier League International Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw against a Porto side who boast a proud recent record in the competition.
The Portuguese youngsters arrived at Staplewood having won the tournament in each of the past two seasons, but fell behind five minutes into the second half when Marcus Barnes slid in at the far post to break the deadlock.
It would take a harsh penalty decision ten minutes later to hand the visitors a route back into the game, as Rui Sousa equalised from the spot after debutant Kayne Ramsay was penalised.
The visitors were first to threaten after 15 minutes, as a high free-kick into the box was headed on by Diogo Quieros, but Rui Pires could only find the gloves of Harry Lewis from close range when either side of the keeper would surely have found the net.
Then Sousa clipped the outside of the post from a sharp low shot on the turn, as the two-time competition winners began to find their rhythm.
The loss of key right-back Yan Valery midway through the first half prompted an Under-23 debut for Kayne Ramsay, a 17-year-old who has been a shining light for the Under-18s in the opening weeks of the season.
Next to go close was Romario Baro, who should have done better when put through by Madi Queta, but found the angle too tight as he lashed his shot into the side-netting from the corner of the six-yard box.
Saints’ approach was rather more direct than Porto’s patient possession, as the hosts looked to exploit a pacey front three of Barnes, Tyreke Johnson and Michael Obafemi.
It would prove more effective, as Barnes stole in to open the scoring at the far post five minutes into the second half.
Will Smallbone fed Jake Vokins to his left, whose low cross into the box with begging for a touch and Barnes duly supplied it, sliding in to give Saints the upper hand.
But the lead would be short-lived, as Ramsay was harshly penalised on the hour. Baro was first to meet a low cross from the right, just in front of the lunging defender who attempted to block, and when Lewis saved instinctively it seemed the danger had passed.
Instead referee Josh Smith pointed to the spot for a foul on Baro by Ramsay, and play was pulled back for the penalty. Up stepped Sousa to send Lewis the wrong way and restore parity.
Straight from kick-off, Saints felt even more aggrieved when Obafemi was cynically barged aside in trying to latch on to a ball in behind the Porto defence, but Smith was not interested in loud home appeals for another spot-kick.
Having scored the equaliser, Sousa was hungry for more as Porto set about turning one point into three.
The striker should have hit the target when he headed over from the centre of the penalty area, before he sneaked in behind the backline and attempted to lift the ball over the advancing Lewis, who stood tall and pulled off another impressive stop.
Not content to settle for a share of the spoils, Saints threatened from a couple of late set-pieces, before Lewis heroically tipped over a stunning long-range drive from Luiz Palhares that seemed destined for the top corner.
Harry Lewis (GK)
Yan ValeryKayne Ramsay (23′)
Tom O'Connor (C)
Marcus BarnesNathan Tella (73′)
Tyreke JohnsonJonathan Afolabi (83′)
Diogo Costa (GK)
Rui Pires (C)
Romario BaroMoreto Cassama (68′)
Madi QuetaJoao Lopes (76′)
Rui SousaRui Costa (87′)