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Toronto FC holds Columbus Crew to 0-0 draw in first leg of Eastern final

Chris Mavinga #23 of the Toronto FC heads the ball wide of the goal and goalkeeper Zack Steffen #23 of the Columbus Crew SC during the first half at MAPFRE Stadium on November 21, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. .
Chris Mavinga #23 of the Toronto FC heads the ball wide of the goal and goalkeeper Zack Steffen #23 of the Columbus Crew SC during the first half at MAPFRE Stadium on November 21, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. . Kirk Irwin / Getty Images

COLUMBUS, Ohio – An under-strength Toronto FC tied Columbus Crew SC 0-0 in Game 1 of the MLS Eastern Conference final Tuesday night, surviving to fight another day.

It was hardly a masterpiece but Toronto got the job done. And top-seeded TFC will be able to roll out its big guns – Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco – back from suspension when the series switches to BMO Field.

Fifth-seeded Columbus came close late.

Toronto ‘keeper Alex Bono made a huge reflex save in the 85th minute, denying Harrison Afful from in close and substitute Kekuta Manneh’s shot off the rebound was blocked.

Brazil’s Artur shot just wide in the 72nd minute and Manneh hammered one off target in the 82nd for Columbus but chances were few and far between _ and several other Columbus efforts were called offside.

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Toronto offered little on offence, with a patient safety-first approach that cleared the decks for the series rematch.