MARTIN O’Neill acknowledged the quality of Champions League challengers Tottenham Hotspur, but said that just because the visitors played well at the Stadium of Light on Saturday didn’t mean they deserved to win.
Across the 90 minutes Spurs were impressive, regularly taking the game to Sunderland and opening up the Black Cats’ defence,
Most observers thought they were worthy winners in terms of the balance of play, but O’Neill himself didn’t see it like that.
He said: “We played with a lot of commitment and a lot of heart, and got ourselves in front just before half-time, and it was obviously disappointing to concede two goals in the space of a couple of minutes.
“It knocked us back and while Tottenham had chances to make it three, we kept going and were in it right until the end so I couldn’t fault the team at all.
“We had to fight pretty hard throughout the afternoon against a very fine side, but our feeling at half-time was that we could go on to win the game.
“I was asked did I think it was unfair that we were in the lead at half-time, or was it against the run of play?
“But I didn’t see Tottenham carve out that many chances in the first half.
“They had one good chance which Adebayor put against the crossbar but even then, that was a mistake from us.
“I thought we defended pretty strongly.
“And we were quite hopeful going into that second-half.
“We thought we could go on to win the game, only to be undone by a couple of early and unfortunate goals.
“It’s disappointing because even a draw would have been good news in keeping our unbeaten run going.
“I’m disappointed not to have won the game having got our noses in front.
“But we have to accept it and move on.
“We haven’t had a bad festive programme so far and we have to look now to try to get something from Liverpool at Anfield.”