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Africa: Nine-Man Sundowns Hold Off for Draw Against Wydad in Casablanca

Nine-man Mamelodi Sundowns held on for a barren draw against defending champions Wydad Athletic Club in the first leg of their TotalEnergies CAF Champions League semi-final at the Mohamed V Complex in Casablanca on Saturday evening.

Sundowns had to play with 10 men from the 42nd minute after Neo Maema was sent off with a straight red card following a VAR on-field review by the referee. They were further reduced to nine men in the 92nd minute, substitute Marcelo Allende being sent off by another VAR intervention.

Maema had been adjudged to have played dangerously after landing his studs on Amine Aboulfath’s torso as he went down from a challenge. In added time, Allende went studs high on a challenge. He was initially given a yellow card, but upon visiting the pitchside monitor, the referee upgraded the yellow to a red.

The South African champions endured a difficult evening in Casablanca, but at the end ensured the tie remains evenly poised heading to next weekend’s return fixture.

Masandawana had started well and thought they had scored in the ninth minute when Peter Shalulile ran to a Maema through ball, but the goal was ruled out for offside by the VAR.

The tactical battle continued between the two African heavyweights and Sundowns had another chance when skipper Themba Zwane tried his luck with a shot from distance but it rolled kindly into the keeper’s arms.

In the 24th minute, the hosts had their first effort at goal when Mohamed Ounnajem drifted from the right to the edge of the box, but his eventual shot went over.