Saturday May 13, 2023. 23:05
Wydad Casablanca were held to a 0-0 draw by nine-man Mamelodi Sundowns in the first leg of their CAF Champions League semifinal, held at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on Saturday evening.
A red card for the Brazilians’ Neo Maema late in the first half (as well as a late dismissal for substitute Marcelo Allende) handed the Red Castle all the initiative, but the visitors were able to hold out for a stalemate which boils the semifinal tie down to next Saturday’s return game in South Africa.
Wydad applied early pressure, but Sundowns showed their threat by finding the net from their first genuine attack, as Peter Shalulile squeezed a shot through goalkeeper Youssef El Motie’s legs in the 10th minute. However, the effort was narrowly ruled out for offside by VAR.
The VAR had another major effect on the game late in the first half when Sundowns, who had been the better team and dominated possession, were reduced to 10 men. Neo Maema was correctly shown a straight red card by referee Daniel Nii Laryea (after seeing video replays on the sidelines) for a challenge in which he thrust his studs into the midriff of Amine Aboulfath.
Wydad almost capitalised on their numerical dominance before the interval, with a free kick from Yahia Attiyat Allah flicked toward goal by Mohammed Ounajem, but ‘Downs goalkeeper Ronwen Williams made an excellent save to keep the score at 0-0.
The start of the second half saw the Red Castle introduce an extra attacker in the shape of Zouheir El Moutaraji, and their first clear chance arrived on 54 minutes when Bouly Sambou volleyed over from a tight angle.
On 65 minutes El Moutaraji took advantage of a mistake from Mothobi Mvala to sprint in on goal down the left of the penalty area, but Williams made a fine save with his leg to deny the substitute.
Sundowns succeeded in stifling any further Wydad attempts to build momentum, with the only genuine chance for the team in white and red arriving in the 87th minute when Hamid Ahadad got on the end of a fine cross from the right and glanced a header wide of the far post.
Sundowns were further reduced in numbers in injury time when Marcelo Allende was red carded (again after a VAR check) for a studs-up challenge, but they nonetheless remained composed in defence and secured a draw.
The teams will meet for the return game at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane on Saturday 20 May, with the aggregate winners advancing to the final to face either Al Ahly or Esperance de Tunis.
Wydad Casablanca 0
Mamelodi Sundowns 0
Wydad: El Motie, El Amloud (Benayada 73’), Aboulfath, Zola, Attiyat Allah, Bouhrati (El Moutaraji 46’), Jaadi (Haimoud 82’), Jabrane, Ounajem, El Hassouni (Ellafi 73’), Sambou (Ahadad 68’)
Sundowns: Williams, Mudau, Boutouil, Mvala, Modiba, Morena (Zungu 90+7’), Mbule, Mokoena, Maema, Zwane (Allende 78’), Shalulile (Kekana 90+6’)
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