Soccer-Holders Wydad Casablanca held at home in Champions League semi-final

CASABLANCA (Reuters) - South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns held out for a goalless away draw against holders Wydad Casablanca in Saturday’s first leg of their African Champions League semi-final despite playing most of the match down to 10 men and finishing with nine.

Sundowns host the return leg in Pretoria next weekend but will be without midfielder Neo Maema, who will be suspended after being dismissed on Saturday for a clumsy studs-high challenge three minutes before halftime.

The dismissal came only after the referee had been referred to the touchline screen by VAR.

Sundowns also saw Chilean import Marcello Allende sent off in stoppage time at the end of the game for a similarly dangerous challenge and they ended the contest down to nine players.

Allende was first booked for his lunge but after the referee Daniel Laryea of Ghana had checked the VAR screen, the sanction was turned into a red card.

Sundowns had dominated early proceedings but once down a man they allowed their hosts to take charge of the game with several good second-half opportunities spurned by Wydad.

Sundowns had the ball in the net after 10 minutes through Peter Shalulile but a VAR check showed him inches offside as he ran on to a through ball down the middle of home defence.

The winners of next Saturday's second leg will take on either Al Ahly of Egypt or Tunisia’s Esperance in next month’s final. Al Ahly won 3-0 away at Esperance in the first leg of their semi-final tie on Friday.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Johannesburg; editing by Clare Fallon)

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