Larsson: No excuses for dismal Sunderland display

POOR DISPLAY ... says Seb Larsson.
POOR DISPLAY ... says Seb Larsson.
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SEB LARSSON says Sunderland cannot use their FA Cup exploits as an excuse for the dismal depths of their Ewood Park defeat.

Sunderland’s display at Blackburn Rovers last night was in stark contrast to the committed performance in Saturday’s cup quarter-final draw at Everton, as the hosts took a major step towards Premier League safety with their first back-to-back victories since November, 2010.

The Black Cats can ill-afford to repeat such a poor showing next Tuesday when they face the Toffees again, with a place in the final four of the cup at stake.

But midfielder Larsson says Sunderland must maintain their focus on the league too, with Martin O’Neill’s side facing nine remaining games to achieve their top 10 goal – starting with Saturday’s visit of QPR.

Larsson told the Echo: “We can’t just concentrate on the cup and we’re not going to use that as an excuse whatsoever.

“We’ve got loads to play for in the league and we want to push on and finish as high as we can. We don’t want to let the season fizzle out. The cup comes along when it comes along, until then we won’t worry about it.

“The good thing is we’ve got a game in a couple of days again. We need to dust ourselves off and be ready for that and make sure we get the three points at home.

“We should be turning up for games like last night. You can never guarantee a scoreline, but we shouldn’t perform like that.

“We know what we can do and we’ve done it plenty of times over the last few months.

“When you know that, sometimes you don’t understand why things like this happen. You just have to hold your hands up and say we weren’t good enough.”

Blackburn calved out all the opportunities in a desperately poor quality first half, yet Sunderland found themselves level at the interval.

But O’Neill’s side were equally flat after the break, although they should have cancelled out Junior Hoilett’s opener when substitute Ji Dong-won blazed over the bar from four yards out.

Blackburn punished Sunderland for their profligacy when former Middlesbrough striker Yakubu sealed victory with four minutes to go.

“It was a really poor game of football overall, but at half-time we were still very much in it,” added Swedish international Larsson.

“The first goal was always going to be important. They got it and we probably only turned up for 10 or 15 minutes and should have scored a couple of goals. But if you only play 10 or 15 minutes, you aren’t going to win any football matches.

“If we had turned it up by 10 per cent in the second half, we probably would have walked away with a few points. But we didn’t, they scored a goal and that decided the game.”