Seb Larsson says Sunderland cannot bemoan their luck after another defeat in the Premier League.
The Black Cats were beaten 2-0 by Manchester City yesterday, but saw a fine effort from Jermain Defoe bounce back off the post with the game still goalless.
It was a sense of deja vu after Defoe hit the bar at Goodison Park last weekend, only for Everton to score a crucial second goal, in their 2-0 win, a minute later.
Larsson felt his side’s ball-winning work was excellent against Pep Guardiola’s star-studded City side, but he was frustrated with their failure to do more with it.
The Swedish midfielder said: “To be fair, I don’t think we can put much more effort into it.
“I think we can definitely have better quality.
“We won the ball back really well in the first half, but we didn’t use it – we gave it away, won it back then gave it away.
“We can definitely improve that.
“We need to keep plugging away, we definitely can’t blame it on bad luck.
“Hitting the post, that’s part of football, it has to go in the frame.”
The Black Cats were much improved from the defeats to Everton and Southampton in recent weeks, though they have now scored in just one of their last six league matches, the 4-0 victory at Crystal Palace.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admitted that his team were lucky to be winning at half-time, his side’s rhythm and passing heavily disrupted by Sunderland’s pressing game.
Larsson was a key part of that, but, with Sunderland six points adrift of safety, with just 11 games left in the season, the 31-year-old said there was little comfort to be taken from a spirited opening to the game.
Sunderland conceded close to half-time again, Sergio Aguero notching City’s opening goal, and Larsson admittted that was becoming a worrying trend.
He said: “To a certain extent, performances matter, but at this stage of the season not so much.
“For me, it is just a defeat and not much else, to be honest.
“We’ve come away with nothing – everyone knows we need points.
“We were doing OK, we were in the game, we limited them quite well, Jermain’s hit the post, it bounces back out and it looks like Fabio is going to nod it in for an open goal.
“But you need to go ahead in a game like this.
“It’s bad timing again to concede, just before half-time like last week.
“I suppose the second goal kills it off, because, all of a sudden, they start playing a different game.
“It is very hard to get close to them and get the ball off them.
“Up until then, we did OK, won the ball back quite well.
“There was times when we gave it away way too easy, but we felt like we were in the game, but you need to go ahead. It is a simple as that.
“There’s obviously something [conceding before half-time], because if we go in 0-0 we’re the happier team, they probably go in frustrated.
“It changes things so much.
“To be honest, it’s really annoying. It feels silly from our side, but that’s the way it is.”