Al Sadd take step towards final
© AFP

Al Sadd took a huge step towards a place in the final of the 2011 AFC Champions League as Mamadou Niang's two goals settled a controversial 2-0 semi-final, first leg victory at Suwon Bluewings.

The former Marseille striker broke the deadlock after 70 minutes at Suwon World Cup Stadium with a deflected effort, and then took advantage of a quick free-kick to go round Bluewings goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong and net the second with nine minutes to go.

The goal infuriated the home side, who felt Al Sadd should have returned possession following a head injury to Choi Sung-Hwan, and a mass brawl broke out between both sets of players and coaches.

Once the referee regained control, Abdulkader Keita and Stevica Ristic were sent off before Niang was dismissed in stoppage time after picking up a second booking for kicking the ball away.

Niang nets the first
The bad-tempered finish spoiled what was otherwise an entertaining encounter. Lee Sang-Ho almost put the South Koreans ahead in the 19th minute when he met Ristic's low cross first-time from six yards, but his effort flashed beyond the far post.

Al Sadd came even closer to breaking the deadlock when Keita's thunderous 25-yard strike crashed off the top of the crossbar, and Niang then poked inches wide after beating defender Mato Neretljak inside the box.

Park Jung-Jin also rattled the bar from 30 yards five minutes before the interval, after his shot had taken a huge deflection off the back of Al Sadd's Lee Jung-Soo.

The Qataris took the lead with 20 minutes to go when Niang cut in from the left and his shot from the edge of the box hit team-mate Khalfan Ibrahim in the chest and wrong-footed Jung.

Controversial second goal
Al Sadd then wrapped up the win inside the last ten minutes. Following Choi's injury, Suwon expected Al Sadd to give them the ball back but Keita instead knocked it forward to an unmarked Niang near the halfway line and, with the hosts standing looking on, he rounded Jung and slotted home.

The awarding of the goal sparked a huge melee between both sets of players and benches and when order was eventually restored, Keita and Ristic were both dismissed.

Niang then got himself sent off in injury time for kicking the ball away, meaning Al Sadd will now have to defend their advantage next week in Doha without their suspended strikeforce.