Lavicka ends Sydney FC reign on sad note
Vitezslav Lavicka bowed out after three seasons at the helm of Sydney FC on a losing note as Wellington Phoenix edged home 3-2 in their A-League elimination semi-final at Westpac Stadium on Friday.
The Sky Blues staged an astonishing comeback after looking down and out when they trailed 2-0 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Acting Phoenix captain Tim Brown got the home side on the scoreboard two minutes into the second half, then Ben Sigmund looked to have put the result beyond doubt with a 78th-minute header.
But Sydney dangerman Joel Chianese pounced with two goals in as many minutes to level the scores with eight minutes remaining.
Wellington's go-to man Paul Ifill responded three minutes later with a well-taken penalty after he was brought down in the box by Sydney defender Michael Beauchamp.
A disappointed Lavicka paid tribute to his players for their efforts in front of a vocal, but surprisingly small, Phoenix home crowd just topping 10,000.
"It's a disappointment, but it was quite an entertaining game," Lavicka said.
"In the first half we created a couple of good opportunities but we didn't take them. In the second half there was quite an early soft goal, then they scored a second one and the game looked like it was decided."
Lavicka said his players showed real resolve and focus, ambushing the Phoenix from the restart with two strikes from Chianese, 22, starting in just his eighth A-League match.
"But then we lost concentration. They played one quick counterattack, there was a tackle in the penalty box are and it was decided from the penalty kick."
Sydney's A-League season is over, while Wellington will play the winner of the Perth Glory-Melbourne Heart elimination semi-final in Perth on Sunday.
The Czech-born coach is now considering his options in Europe, but said his time at Sydney had been special.
"I would like to thank all the Sydney FC players, staff, members and fans because I spent a great three years in this club.
"I'm very proud I was part of a club like Sydney FC - this club has taken my heart forever.
"So thanks to everyone, and good luck for the future as well. My chapter here in Australia, in Sydney, is done tonight."