Sunderland’s Larsson: Outburst was aimed at referee

Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson and Manchester City's Fernandinho battle for the ball.

Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson and Manchester City's Fernandinho battle for the ball.

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SEB LARSSON insists his Capital One Cup final outburst was directed at referee Martin Atkinson, NOT Sunderland’s coaching staff.

Larsson was clearly angry when he was substituted on the hour mark against Manchester City on Sunday after a bright display following his return to the starting XI.

But it was not Sunderland manager Gus Poyet’s decision to withdraw him from the field which caused the Swedish international to be so infuriated.

Instead, Larsson says he was still upset with Atkinson after he felt he was fouled in the run-up to Manchester City’s equaliser five minutes earlier.

“My little outburst was not directed against any of our staff,” Larsson told the Swedish press prior to tonight’s international friendly against Turkey.

“Obviously, you’re never happy to be replaced, but I was angry at the referee.

“You become frustrated because we should have had a free-kick just before the equaliser.

“Then City score a second goal and the frustration spills over a little bit.”

Larsson admits defeat in the final was tough to take, particularly after Sunderland had performed so well during the first half.

The 28-year-old had lifted the League Cup in his previous visit to Wembley after being part of the Birmingham side who produced an upset against Arsenal in 2011.

But Larsson experienced the reverse emotions this time around, as Sunderland missed the chance to lift their first trophy in 41 years.

“It is not every day you get to experience playing in major finals,” added the midfielder.

“Although City won, we played so well and it felt like it took two wonder goals to beat us.

“It was very hard.”

Larsson is one of nine Sunderland players in contention to represent their countries tonight, in the final set of internationals before the summer.

Phil Bardsley and Steven Fletcher are in the Scotland squad for their friendly in Poland, while Black Cats skipper John O’Shea is due to represent the Republic of Ireland against Serbia.

Emanuele Giaccherini is in the Italy squad facing Spain in Madrid, while Ki Sung-Yueng has travelled to Greece to link up with South Korea.

Youngsters John Egan and Charis Mavrias are in the Under-21 squads of Ireland and Greece respectively too.

But striker Jozy Altidore, left out of the 18 at Wembley, will be involved in one of the most intriguing games tonight, with the USA taking on Ukraine, in Cyprus.

There had been doubts over whether the game would be played due to the escalating political situation in the Ukraine, but both US Soccer and the Ukraine FA have decided that it will go ahead as planned.