Jeremain Lens has refused to blame bungling officiating for Sunderland’s defeat at Bournemouth, despite seeing a legitimate goal ruled out.
Lens headed home what should have been his second in a Sunderland shirt early in the second half at Dean Court, yet the linesman incorrectly ruled that the Dutch international was offside to Yann M’Vila’s inswinging cross.
If that moment had been a goal, then maybe it would have been a different gameJeremain Lens
That incident, eight minutes into the second half, was pivotal during Sunderland’s best spell of the game, as it dashed hopes of the Black Cats overcoming their two-goal deficit.
But Lens says Sunderland’s snail-paced start to the game, when they conceded twice within the opening nine minutes, was to blame for the 2-0 defeat, not the linesman’s wayward decision-making.
“If you concede two early goals, you know it’s going to be a difficult game,” said Lens.
“In the second half, we tried to start better. Unfortunately I scored, but with the mistake from the referee, it didn’t count.
“That can happen. I don’t blame the referee. Everyone can make mistakes.
“If that moment had been a goal, then maybe it would have been a different game.
“But I don’t know why we started like that. If you saw the Tottenham game, we played very well, even though we didn’t win that match.
“It was a totally different game at Bournemouth.
“We need to find a solution for that.”
A fourth defeat from the opening six games was a hefty backwards step from Sunderland after they had produced their best display of the campaign against Spurs six days earlier.
But Lens is not convinced that Sunderland’s continued troubles are down to problems over their mentality - believing that a need to find the right cohesion in the side is the chief concern for the Premier League’s basement boys.
“I didn’t play here last season, but it wasn’t a problem in the last nine games for the players to show the right mentality,” added the £12.5million summer signing.
“We have most of the same players now, with a few new ones.
“But most of the players are the same, so I don’t think it’s a mental problem - more that we need to find a solution as a team.
“We showed against Spurs that we can do it.
“Hopefully we can find the reason why we started like that and do it better the next time.”