Belfast Telegraph

Larsson furious after sorry Sunderland hand the points to Stoke

Sunderland 1 Stoke City 3

By Damian Spellman

Sebastian Larsson has told Sunderland they have only themselves to blame for an horrific capitulation against Stoke which plunged them deeper into relegation trouble.

On a day when victory would have lifted them out of the bottom three, the Black Cats handed the visitors a 3-0 lead at the Stadium of Light inside a disastrous 34 minutes to leave themselves with a mountain to climb and little chance of reaching the summit, eventually succumbing 3-1.

Asked for his assessment, Larsson said: "Not good enough, it's as simple as that. You lose a home game when we thought we had a good chance of three points.

"We spoke again about having an opportunity to get out of the bottom three and we really slammed the door in our own faces early on and really handed Stoke the game.

"It was not good enough."

The home side slept as Xherdan Shaqiri floated a long cross-field ball into the run of Marko Arnautovic, who controlled it perfectly and after Vito Mannone had blocked his initial effort, thumped home the rebound to give the Potters a 15th-minute lead.

The Austria international doubled his tally within seven minutes when, with the help of one-twos with first Shaqiri and then striker Peter Crouch, he waltzed through a statuesque defence to beat Mannone once again.

If the Italian was not helped by his team-mates for the first two goals, the third was all his own work as he hesitated when coming for Charlie Adam's cross and allowed Crouch to climb high above him and head his 99th Premier League goal and his 50th in a Stoke shirt.

Jermain Defoe dragged Sunderland back into contention five minutes before the break with his 12th of the season, but although the home side made a better fist of it after the break, it was all too little too late.

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