Johannesburg - Substitute Thuso Phala scored to salvage a 2-2 draw for SuperSport United against Horoya of Guinea on Friday in the opening CAF Confederation Cup group game.
It was a disappointing start to Group D for the Pretoria club, who had scored 11 goals in three home victories en route to the expanded 16-club mini-league phase.
England-born coach Stuart Baxter, who becomes South Africa boss later this month, gambled by fielding seven reserves after a domestic match three days ago.
But the fringe players were unable to stamp their authority on a cold, wet and windy night at Lucas "Masterpieces" Moripe Stadium and trailed twice.
Cameroonian Jean Francis Ebele nodded Horoya in front on 34 minutes with a looping header after SuperSport failed to clear a long throw.
United levelled five minutes later with a brilliantly struck free-kick by Keegan Ritchie, which flew over Malian goalkeeper Germain Berthe into the net.
Horoya regained the lead six minutes into the second half when Ghanaian Seyei Baffour scored with a low drive from outside the box.
Sensing defeat, Baxter brought on the leading Confederation Cup scorer this season, five-goal Jeremy Brockie from New Zealand, and Phala.
They combined on 82 minutes to rescue the South African side with a Brockie dummy opening the defence and Phala raced through to score with a low shot.
Title-holders TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo host CF Mounana of Gabon on Sunday in the other Group D match day 1 fixture.