Johannesburg: CAF Champions League title-holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco survived a late siege by Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in Pretoria Saturday to force a 1-1 matchday one draw.
Sundowns made a perfect start to the Group C clash between the last two winners of the elite African club competition by going ahead within three minutes.
Ivorian Cheick Comara turned a Sibusiso Vilakazi cross into his net, although the goal was awarded only after the Cameroon referee overruled his assistant, who had signalled a corner.
Wydad responded with an adventurous approach that paid off on 20 minutes when Ismail el Haddad darted forward to nod a cross past Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango.
El Haddad will score few simpler goals as several Sundowns defenders stood still, believing the ball had crossed the line before being floated into the goalmouth.
Rattled by the goal, Sundowns were lucky not to fall behind soon after when Wydad captain Brahim Nakach surged into the box only to blaze wide.
After a thrilling first half, the second 45 minutes was a let-down as Wydad tired in the 1,340-metre (4,395-feet) altitude and wasted time whenever possible.
Wydad edged 2016 Champions League winners Sundowns on penalties in the quarter-finals last season after both clubs won 1-0 at home.
The draw completed an eventful day for Sundowns after news leaked that they will face Spanish giants Barcelona on May 16, and signed Guinea-Bissau striker Toni Silva.
The friendly against Barca is expected to be confirmed in Spain Monday and will be staged at the 90,000-capacity Soccer City stadium in Soweto.
It will be the second visit of Barcelona to South Africa, having beaten Sundowns in Pretoria 11 years ago.
Silva was on the books of Benfica, Chelsea and Liverpool as a youth and moves to South Africa from Greek outfit Levadiakos.
In the other Group C match, Horoya of Guinea kept a 100 per cent away record in the competition this season by edging Port of Togo 2-1 in Lome with captain Aboubacar Camara scoring the winner.
Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo made an impressive start in Group B by whipping fellow former African champions Entente Setif of Algeria 4-1 in Lubumbashi.
The pick of the goals was the opener on 10 minutes as quick, slick passing created gaps in the Setif defence and Ben Malango fired a cross into the net from close range.
Malango bagged a brace and Elia Meschak and Zambian Nathan Sinkala also scored for Mazembe.
Group D favourites Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, the only winners of all five present and past CAF club competitions, came from behind to hold Primeiro Agosto of Angola 1-1 in Luanda.
Lompala Bokamba struck the ball into the corner of the net from just outside the box on 43 minutes and Ammar Jemal headed the equaliser midway through the second half after a free-kick.
In the same section, Mongaliso Shongwe scored on 80 minutes to earn Mbabane Swallows of Swaziland a 1-1 draw away to 2016 Champions League semi-finalists Zesco United of Zambia in Ndola.