Doha: It was a test of character for Al Duhail SC and they passed it in flying colours.
The reigning QNB Stars League champions, who crashed out of the AFC Champions League last week after losing to Persepolis, was staring at another reversal when they were down to 10 men in the 34th minute against a strong Al Gharafa side on Saturday, but they weathered the storm and won 4-2.
Youssef El Arabi and Nam Tae Hee both scored two goals for Nabil Maaloul's men while new signing Paulo Edmilson ran his socks off and showed off his trickery and pace in abundant measures.
Duhail were unlucky not to score in the opening minutes after Lucas Mendes long ball from defence opened up Gharafa defence and Almorez Ali centered the ball for Nam inside the box. The South Korean forward, however, failed to beat Yousef Hassan in Gharafa goal.
It didn't take Duhail to take the lead as they turned defence into attack before Gharafa realised it.
El Arabi got the ball off a Gharafa corner and found Edmilson, who showed plenty of strength and tenacity to hold off the challenge of Cheetahs' captain Fahid Sattam Al Shammari before breaking clear and laying the ball back to the Moroccan.
El Arabi broke into the box with pace and even though Hassan made a fine save to deny his first attempt, the Duhail striker squeezed home the rebound from an acute angle in style.
Gharafa equalised in the 16th minute through a defensive mistake from Duhail.
Mohammed Moosa's backpass was too short for Amin Lecomte and Mehdi Taremi drew a foul from the Duhail keeper for a penalty.
Vladimir Weiss sent Lecomte the wrong way from the spot to make it 1-1.
Duhail continued to create chances and tested Hassan a couple of times, but the young Gharafa keeper stood up to the challenge.
He had no trouble holding on to shots from El Arabi and Almoez, before effecting a fingertip save to keep out Nam's free kick in the 30th minute.
From the resultant corner, Gharafa launched a counter-attack and Weiss's pressure told on Muraj Naji, who botched his back pass and fouled the chasing Gharafa forward.
Referee Salman Falahi initially took out the yellow card from his pocket and then on consultation with his assistant, flashed the red.
Stung by the reversal, Duhail suddenly launched a series of attacks, with Emilson at the centre of it.
First he linked up with El Arabi but failed to connect Almoez's cross in front of an open goal.
Then he presented the ball as if on a platter for El Arabi, who missed his shot with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Edmilson again pierced through the Gharafa defence effortlessly and presented El Arabi with another chance. The Duhail talisman was guilty of delaying his shot, but he was fouled inside the box by Amro Seraj and the referee pointed to the spot. El Arabi converted the penalty to hand Duhail the lead yet again in the 42nd minute.
Gharafa equalised again soon after the restart and again it was a defensive mistake that did Duhail in.
Almoez, playing as a right back after the dismissal of Neji, handed the ball in his effort to chest down a cross and referee pointed to the spot after loud appeals from Gharafa players.
Mehdi Taremi made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-2.
Duhail kept on with their attacking game and came close to regaining the lead almost immediately.
Nam burst through Gharafa defence, but his shot was blocked by Hassan.
A few minutes later Nam found El Arabi with a fine cross but the striker's header crashed on to the crossbar.
It didn't take Duhail long to regain the lead as Nam beat Hassan with a powerful shot from just inside the box in the 62nd minute.
Duhail created chances after chances to increase the lead as Nam, El Arabi and Edmilson, in particular, proved too tricky for Gharafa defence, but poor finishing stopped them from making the game safe.
Duhail survived a couple of scares as substitute Yahya al Salemi's header hit the crossbar and Lecomte made a save to deny Moyad Hassan, but they eventually made the game safe in the 88th when El Arabi found Nam who beat Hassan from close range.
They could have made it five in added time as Hassan fouled substitute Abdullah Al Ahrak inside the box, but the Gharafa goalkeeper redeemed himself by saving Moosa's penalty.
Gharafa were without Sneijder who suffered a thigh injury in the match against Umm Salal and after that was involved in a car accident and hurt his neck, but it doesn't take any sheen off Duhail win.
The victory helped Duhail surge to second in the table, behind Al Sadd who thrashed Al Rayyan early in the day, only on goal difference.