City youngsters edged out by Portuguese visitorsNORWICH City Under-21s were eliminated from the Premier League International Cup after a narrow defeat to FC Porto at Colney Training Centre on Wednesday afternoon.
The visitors secured all three points courtesy of a late Roniel Costa winner, after Luciano Becchio's second half penalty had drawn City level following an early Leandro Silva spot-kick.
Paul Wilkinson's side deserved more from a lively contest, with Becchio also having a penalty saved just moments before he converted from 12 yards.
City began the match brightly, and in the fifth minute called visiting goalkeeper Raul Vega into meaningful action for the first time when Jacob Murphy cut inside from the left before firing low a goal.
However, with a quarter of an hour gone FC Porto took the lead when Leandro Silva stepped up to score from the spot after Louis Ramsay brought down the tricky Costa from behind.
Ramsay responded positively, and two minutes later the full-back produced an excellent cross which saw Becchio denied from close-range by a sprawling Vega save.
From the resultant corner, a precise delivery from Jacob Murphy found Conor McGrandles in space only for the midfielder to nod wide of goal.
The ever-involved Scot then tried his luck from distance on 34 minutes, but a flashed effort flew narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
Porto threatened to extend their lead nine minutes before the break, with some fine goalkeeping from Remi Matthews seeing the City youngster read a viciously swerving Luis Trabulo strike to gather at the second attempt.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 0-1 FC Porto
After a steady opening to the second half, the game exploded into life on 52 minutes when Cameron Norman was hauled down in the box following good work from Michee Efete.
Becchio stepped up to take the spot-kick, with Vega preserving his side's lead by diving low to his right and palming away.
However, barely 60 seconds later the Argentine was given another chance to score after McGrandles was scythed to the ground by Diogo Verdasca.
This time the 31-year-old made no mistake, confidently dispatching the penalty into the corner to bring the Canaries level.
Porto came close to reestablishing their advantage just after the hour-mark, but Luis Alves and Andre Silva were denied by a smart Matthews save and a well-time Kyle McFadden tackle respectively.
The latter allowed City to break at pace, and a precise through-ball from Murphy came within inches of being collected by Sam Kelly following an intelligent run.
Kelly then turned provider on 77 minutes, pulling across the area for the on-rushing Murphy to strike low into the base of the post as the home side looked for a winner.
They had arguably an even better chance of scoring a crucial second two minutes later, but Becchio could only knock wide from deep inside the box after the forward had combined well with Murphy.
City were duly punished for not taking either opportunity five minutes from time, when Costa broke beyond the last line of defence ahead of firing past Matthews via a deflection.
That goal would prove to be the one which decided the contest, with Matthews producing another fine stop late on to deny substitute Tony Djim as FC Porto countered on their hosts.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 1-2 FC Porto
GOALS: Canaries: Luciano Becchio (54, pen.) Dragons: Leandro Silva (15, pen.), Roniel Costa (57)
NORWICH CITY: Matthews; Ramsay, McFadden, Miquel, Efete; Grant (Cantwell, 89); Norman, McGrandles, Kelly; Jacob Murphy, Becchio. Subs not used: Oxborough (GK), Boateng, Cole, Burgess, Couzens, Crowe.
FC PORTO: Vega; Bruno, Osorio, Alves, A Silva, Podstawski, Costa, Trabulo (Graca, 60), Maciel (Djim, 78), Verdasca (Ramos, 62), L Silva. Subs not used: Caio.
REFEREE: I Rathbone