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Pitak sparks Slavia comeback

Thursday, 12 August 2004

By Ladislav Josef

[1] SK Slavia Praha showed the benefit of UEFA Cup experience as they came from behind to win the first leg of their second qualifying round tie against Dinamo Tbilisi.

Pitak the key

[2] Karel Pitak proved the key man for Slavia, as he helped set up two goals and scored one for a side who have not failed to reach the first round of this competition since 1992, including two quarter-final appearances. But it was the visitors from Georgia that dominated the first half.

Visitors lead

[3] Slavia had lost their opening league game to FC Zlín on Saturday, and struggled early on tonight. Indeed, they were behind after just 12 minutes as Mikheil Kakaladze went past Lukáš Došek and found Levan Melkadze, who hit the target with his cross-shot. Dinamo, whose 2002/03 UEFA Cup campaign ended against FC Slovan Liberec - then under the control of current Slavia coach Josef Csaplár - continued to attack but could not extend their lead before the break.

Turning point

[4] Melkadze hit the post with a 57th-minute shot, but that proved to be the turning point as Slavia took control. Not long afterwards Pitak was tripped in the visitors' penalty area by David Chichveishvili and Brazilian striker Adauto Da Silva converted the resulting spot-kick.

Crucial goals

[5] Two minutes later Slavia led as Lumír Sedlácek sent in a corner and Pitak forced the ball into the net. Pitak, a member of the Czech Republic team that won the 2002 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, was sent through one-on-one with Irakli Zoidze 13 minutes from time, and although the Georgian goalkeeper parried the shot, he was helpless against half-time substitute David Kalivoda's follow-up as Slavia gained a useful cushion for the return on 26 August.

Karel Pitak was Slavia's key man