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CAF CL: Mamelodi Sundowns narrowly edge out Hilal in Pretoria

South African side Mamelodi Sundowns started their TotalEnergies CAF Champions League group stage campaign with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over ten-man Sudanese side Al Hilal in Pretoria on Saturday.

Cassius Mailula’s first-half goal was what separated the two sides as Hilal had to finish the match with 10 men following a sending-off.

Defender Altayeb Abaker was sent off with four minutes of regulation time left following a second yellow card for a deliberate handball.

Mailula scored what would be the winner in the 25th minute of the match when he reacted quickest to tap the ball home from close range after Hilal keeper Ali Abdala Abosheren spilt a shot from the edge of the box off Neo Maema.

Hilal’s best chance to draw level before the break was in the 28th minute when a well-weighted cross from the right found Mohamed Abdelrahman inside the box, but the skipper could not glance his header on target unmarked.

In the second half, it turned out to be a tactical battle between the two sides. Sundowns had a golden chance with Mailula almost netting a second, but his close-range effort was blocked by keeper Abosheren.

Hilal gave in a good account and Glody Makaby had a chance when he slapped a shot from inside the box but it didn’t gather enough steam, the keeper making a routine save.

Their efforts were however punctured when Abaker was sent off and Sundowns managed the situation well to guard the three points.


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