Mixed emotions for O'Neill
Martin O'Neill was delighted by Sunderland's display at Manchester City but was disappointed to see them miss out on a shock victory.
Last Updated: 31/03/12 7:46pm
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill was delighted by his side's display at Manchester City but was disappointed to see them miss out on a shock victory.
The Black Cats stormed to a 3-1 lead through two Sebastian Larsson goals either side of a Nicklas Bendtner strike but City produced a late comeback to earn a share of the spoils in a 3-3 draw.
O'Neill hailed his side after they bounced back from their FA Cup exit to Everton in midweek to become the first team to deny City a league win at the Etihad Stadium this season, but admits he was hoping they could hold on for an upset.
Asked whether he had mixed emotions on the game the manager replied: "Yes. I thought we played brilliantly today. I'm obviously disappointed to have dropped some points.
"First of all they have won 15 consecutive games here, we're the first team to take some points off them. Also they're second in the league so they're actually a very, very good team.
"If you ask me now I think we got a little bit tired. The exertions from Tuesday night, also maybe the disappointment of Tuesday night... although we seemed to put that to the side and performed excellently.
"It was a combination of both Manchester City fighting back and us getting a little bit tired."
The manager reserved special praise for Stephane Sessegnon and Bendtner, adding with a smile that the striker lived up to his own hype.
"Sessegnon and Bendtner, I was very impressed," he said.
"Bendtner played as a real, proper centre forward today. With a performance like that, maybe his much self-vaunted opinion is justified today."
O'Neill was unhappy with referee Phil Dowd's decision to award City a penalty in the first half after Craig Gardner appeared to foul Yaya Toure.
Mario Balotelli converted from the spot to pull City level at 1-1 and while disappointed, the manager insists it should not take anything away from his side's display.
"I thought initially the referee was going to book their player for diving. But I should have known better," he said.
"I didn't think it was and I think the replays will show that. Really disappointing, obviously."
He added: "It shouldn't detract from our performance. Our performance was terrific. The players are really disappointed in the dressing room.
"After the real disappointment of Tuesday night it was a brilliant performance by the team. I thought not only did we show some spirit, but we showed great ability. We passed it, we scored great goals in the game.
"Bendtner had a chance to make it 4-1. Had we have won today I don't think anybody would have complained."