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Sunderland boss Bruce fumes at defence & officials

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Bruce blames lack of 'courage'

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce vented his anger at his defence and at the match officials after the 3-2 loss to Stoke.

John Carew looked offside for Stoke's first goal before a late Robert Huth double steered the Potters to victory.

Bruce described the loss as "cruel" and "harsh" and added: "We spoke all week about defending set-pieces. You have to be brave and you have to head it.

"But you also need the officials to do their job as well and Carew is a yard offside for the first one."

The home victory, which moved Stoke up to an impressive ninth spot in the Premier League, had looked hugely unlikely for much of a lively encounter.

Sunderland opened the scoring with a Kieran Richardson opener inside two minutes but then came the Stoke equaliser that riled Bruce so much.

Carew scored his first goal since joining from Aston Villa last month but looked offside as he poked in with only Anton Ferdinand standing between the Norwegian striker and the goal-line.

Asamoah Gyan regained the lead for Sunderland after the break, but the visitors sat back and finally buckled under a barrage of long throws and set-pieces, as two Jermaine Pennant free-kicks set up Huth to score twice in the last seven minutes and seal a remarkable recovery.

Pulis salutes Stoke team spirit

"Sometimes it's cruel, the cruellest of them all," Bruce added. "We dominated the game in large spells but we didn't defend properly.

"We knew what to expect. To score two goals away from home and not come away with anything is desperately harsh.

"The second goal is also dubious. You need your players to be strong but you need officials to do their job and they've not done it properly.

"The two decisions for the first two goals are bad enough. At times we played some really good football, but there are no pluses. We're really disappointed."

With some suspicion that Carew handled the ball in the build-up to the second equaliser, Stoke manager Tony Pulis felt his side were due to be on the right side of a debatable decision.

"Some say John handballed it but we deserved that one," Pulis added.

"When we played Sunderland at their place Lee Cattermole handballed it with his left hand, caught it with his right and threw it out for a corner.

"The ref gave a corner when he should have given a penalty and sent the player off. If we've had a little bit back I am absolutely delighted."



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see also
Stoke 3-2 Sunderland
05 Feb 11 |  Premier League
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