SEBASTIAN Larsson has warned his Sunderland teammates they must rediscover their defensive solidity if they are to avoid conceding the kind of “soft goals” that cost them victory against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Black Cats had kept three clean sheets in their four previous Premier League games. But having harboured “genuine” hope of claiming a fourth win in five after leading through John O’Shea’s first goal for the club, Larsson admits his side allowed Spurs to steal the points – through Carlos Cuellar’s own goal, then Aaron Lennon’s winner – all too easily.
“It’s very disappointing, I think we threw it away unfortunately,” said Larsson.
“I think we did well in the first half. We worked hard, kept going, got in front, then we find ourselves behind within six minutes of the start of the second half.
“They were both very soft goals. Defensively, we were sound in the first half and when we took the lead we felt we genuinely had a good chance of winning it. But the biggest frustration is I don’t think they had to work too hard for the goals they scored.
“Fair enough, they are going to create chances with the players they have got and they are going to push on when they are behind to try and get the equaliser.
“But we should have been more solid when that second half started. It was two very bad goals from our point of view.”
That said, Sunderland might have conceded more still but for a series of fine saves by Simon Mignolet.
And Larsson says he is delighted to have the “big, cuddly giant” – among the best, said the Swede – on his side. “Simon has been terrific for us,” Larsson said. “We know he is capable of making the saves he did as he has been doing those all season. It is just a shame we couldn’t help him out a bit.
“I am pleased we got Simon. He is right up there with the best and it is a shame the saves he made today didn’t count for anything at the end.”
Larsson added: “He likes to think he is intelligent. He is a young lad who fits in perfectly. He is such a nice lad. He is a big, cuddly giant!”