Gallant Sydney FC bow out after thrilling 3-2 loss

A gallant Sydney FC bowed out of the 2011/12 Hyundai A-League after going down 3-2 to Wellington Phoenix in a thrilling elimination final at Westpac Stadium.

A gallant Sydney FC bowed out of the 2011/12 Hyundai A-League after going down 3-2 to Wellington Phoenix in a thrilling elimination final at Westpac Stadium.

The A-League-s comeback kings almost did it again, coming back from 2-0 down thanks to a Joel Chianese brace in the 80th and 84th minute, before Paul Ifill broke Sydney FC-s heart by scoring an 85th minute penalty to progress.

The match was a thriller with four goals in a pulsating six-minute burst towards the end of the game but unfortunately for the Sky Blues a stop-start season finished in the same way.

The loss not only ended the 2011/12 campaign but brought to a close the Sydney FC career of Coach Vitezslav Lavicka, who will leave Sydney as the Sky Blues- most successful coach in history.

Lavicka stuck with the same team that defeated Newcastle Jets 3-2 at Allianz Stadium to seal a finals place last weekend. The only change saw the addition of Mitch Mallia to the bench with A-League rules allowing for five substitutes to sit on the bench in semi finals.

Sydney FC had the first chance of the game when Brett Emerton beat the off side trap in the 3rd minute, squared the ball back to an unmarked Nick Carle on the penalty spot but his scuffed shot went just wide.

The game drifted through the opening stages with both sides showing some nerves but it was Sydney FC that settled into the game first.

Bruno Cazarine had a great chance in the 18th minute when his volley was deflected wide Wellington-s Vince Lia after a quick Sky Blues break saw Joel Chianese whip in a delightful cross.

Two minutes later the roles were swapped but Cazarine could not find Chianese with a delicate dink with the youngster unmarked on the penalty spot with only Phoenix ‘keeper Mark Paston in front of him.

Sydney FC did have some nervous moments and Ivan Necevski made a great save from an Andrew Durante header in the 26th minute.

As the clock ticked down to half time it was Sydney FC who looked the most likely to take advantage of a 55 per cent possession advantage and open the scoring but the teams went to the break locked at 0-0.

It was Wellington who flew out of the change rooms and they home side took the lead in the 47th minute through the retiring Tim Brown, who poked home a loose ball after Sydney FC failed to deal with a tame free kick.

Sydney FC suffered another blow in the 51st minute when defender Pascal Bosschaart suffered a knee injury and was replaced immediately by Sebastian Ryall.

Wellington took control after opening the scoring and the Sky Blues looked nervous, handing the Phoenix two great chances in the 61st and 64th minutes following defensive mistakes but Necevski kept the visitors in the game.

Wellington put one foot into the next round of the semi finals when Ben Sigmund scored with a thumping header from a corner to make it 2-0.

Less than 60 seconds later and Sydney FC had a sniff when Chianese chipped Paston after a clever through ball from Carle to make it 2-1.

The momentum was with Sydney FC and Chianese made it 2-2 in the 84th minute when he was the first to react to a rebound and calmly slotted the ball home.

In what was an amazing final 10 minutes Wellington Phoenix was awarded a penalty in the 85th minute when Michael Beauchamp was adjudged to have bundled over Paul Ifill, who scored the spot kick to make it 3-2.

The last five minutes was frenetic as Sydney FC pushed numbers forward looking for an equaliser but it was not to be.

Wellington Phoenix 3 (Tim Brown 47, Ben Sigmund 79, Paul Ifill 85pen) d Sydney FC 2 (Joel Chianese 80, 84) Westpac Stadium Crowd: 10,019 Referee: Chris Beath

Sydney FC: 20. Ivan Necevski, 4. Pascal Bosschaart (2. Sebastian Ryall ‘51), 5. Michael Beauchamp, 7. Brett Emerton, 8. Karol Kisel, 9. Bruno Cazarine (19. Mark Bridge ‘60), 10. Nick Carle, 12. Shannon Cole, 15. Terry McFlynn (c) (17. Terry Antonis ‘80), 16. Joel Chianese, 21. Scott Jamieson. Subs not used: 30. Ryan Norval (gk) and 24. Mitch Mallia. Yellow cards: Scott Jamieson 28, Bruno Cazarine 44, Michael Beauchamp 84. Red cards: Nil

Wellington Phoenix: 1. Mark Paston, 2. Manny Muscat, 3. Tony Lochhead, 6. Tim Brown, 7. Leo Bertos (11. Daniel Cortes ‘92), 8. Paul Ifill, 9. Chris Greenacre, 17. Vince Lia, 18. Ben Sigmund, 21. Daniel Sanchez (24. Alex Smith ‘77), 22. Andrew Durante (c). Subs not used: 20. Anthony Warner (gk), 12. Nick Ward, 14. Mirjan Pavlovic. Yellow cards: Tim Brown 29, Daniel Sanchez 31, Vince Lia 87. Red cards: Nil