Martin O’Neill absolved Simon Mignolet for the rare goalkeeping howler which sent West Brom in at half-time two goals up at the Stadium of Light, writes Graeme Anderson.
The Belgian had failed to keep out Zoltan Gera’s long-range effort on the half-hour but compounded things when he spilled a routine ball into the box and allowed Shane Long a simple tap in on the stroke of half-time.
O’Neill though said: “Simon Mignolet has been absolutely fantastic for us this season so he’s entitled to one of those.
“We can allow him a slip because he’s made so many crucial saves this season and you just have to put it down as one of things.
“It just went into his arms and came out again.”
Despite the two-goal deficit, the Sunderland boss said he always felt his team could get back into the game.
“We genuinely felt we were still very much in the game at half-time because there was very little in it in the first half.
“We’d pretty much handed them their goals and we felt confident that if we were more attack-minded in the second half we were still very much in the game.
“The penalty for Albion, or non-penalty, was a major decision in the game at a time when we were pushing for an equaliser.
“But even then we fought back and I thought we might still go on to equalise.
“The fourth goal I’m not concerned about because we were chasing the game in the dying seconds and throwing everything forward.
“I’m very disappointed by the result but I thought there were positives to take out of the game and into the match against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday.
“I’m sure we’ll bounce back.”
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