Seb Larsson pays the penalty

Sebastian Larsson.
Sebastian Larsson.
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SUSPENDED Seb Larsson today blasted the bungling officiating which cost Sunderland the chance to share the spoils at Old Trafford.

Sunderland thought they were set to ruin Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25th anniversary celebrations on Saturday after referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot following a handball in the Manchester United penalty area.

Mason’s assistant Jake Collin had also signalled for a spot-kick, but under intense pressure from United’s players, the two officials reversed their decision to deny Sunderland the chance of an equaliser.

Although replays suggested the outcome was the right one, with Black Cats substitute Ji Dong-won the handball culprit, midfielder Larsson was incensed at the turnaround.

Larsson told the Echo: “In the end it’s the right decision which is fair enough and that’s what we all want.

“But what I don’t understand is if the linesman gives it and the referee agrees and points to the spot, it seems that neither of them has seen what has actually happened.

“So it’s a penalty. Why did they change their mind?

“That’s the confusing thing, but I suppose it was the right decision and there’s different ways of getting there.”

Larsson had reason to be doubly aggrieved at Mason after the referee handed the 26-year-old his fifth yellow card of the season – ruling the former Birmingham man out of the Stadium of Light clash with Fulham on Saturday week.

The Swedish international should maintain his match sharpness with friendlies against Denmark and England during the two-week international break ahead of his one-match ban.

But Larsson believes Sunderland deserved to be heading into the Premier League’s hiatus with something to show for their efforts after matching United for much of Saturday’s encounter, only to succumb to Wes Brown’s own goal on the stroke of half-time.

“The booking felt a bit soft but there you go,” said Larsson. “The suspension means it’s even more important for me to keep up my fitness during two big international games.

“We were solid on Saturday after we had worked a lot on how we wanted to play. We limited the space available to them and frustrated them.

“Apart from the own goal and Keiren’s (Westwood) double save, they didn’t really trouble us that much.

“That makes it even more frustrating that we left without any points, especially as it’s an unlucky own goal that was the only difference between the two sides.

“United are solid at the back, but we did get a lot of the ball in the second half and credit to us for taking the game to them.

“I must say, I thought we had scored when (David) Meyler crossed it to me and I put it in for Nicklas (Bendtner). I thought it was in.

“But we need to keep working hard and I’m sure those little things will go in our favour.”