Alex Neil rejects hard luck stories after Norwich City suffer Premier League jitters against Sunderland

Dieumerci Mbokani went down under Younes Kaboul's challenge but referee Andre Marriner waved away No

Dieumerci Mbokani went down under Younes Kaboul's challenge but referee Andre Marriner waved away Norwich City penalty appeals. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil admitted whining about dubious officiating served only to mask Norwich City's own shortcomings in a 3-0 Premier League defeat to Sunderland that seriously threatens their top flight status.

Neil was convinced Andre Marriner had questions to answer on both the Black Cats' first two goals, converted by Fabio Borini and Jermian Defoe, before Duncan Watmore completed the rout.

The Canaries also had a dizzying number of penalty appeals Marriner opted to overlook on a miserable afternoon at Carrow Road.

'It just sounds like sour grapes now,' said Neil. 'When you get beat 3-0 you have to take it on the chin. 'I think Dieumerci's (Mbokani) one in the second-half, when he went back across the player, was a penalty and Seb (Bassong) had one where the boy nudges him but the referee calls it as he sees it,' said Neil. 'I think the two goals are the deciding factor, and they came from those decisions. Goals change games.

'Sunderland didn't come and really win the game, in the sense it was decisions we made or you could argue the referee made, that didn't help us and contributed to why we lost. The bottom line is we didn't do enough. It is about winning or losing.

'I thought we controlled most of the game in the first-half. We got into really good areas, but the weight of pass was wrong or we decided not to shoot when I thought we could. For 20 minutes after half-time it was a good response. We looked threatening, we hit the post, we had a couple of bits in and around the box where we could have done better and then they breakaway and score. That killed us.'

Neil is in no doubt Norwich have the quality and mental fortitude to keep their heads above water.

'I would like to think they can mentally handle this but the next four games will prove whether they have it or not,' he said. 'I think points are more valuable than games in hand at this stage and I was saying that before this game, but what we have done now is fail to capitalise on an unbelievable opportunity to help our cause.

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'You can talk about Defoe and players like that, but we have enough quality to make a difference. It is a sickener, it was never a 3-0 game in a million years. People talk about momentum all the time but Sunderland came here not having won in six matches, so that is not momentum. We had gone 10 or 11 in a row and had not won and then picked up back-to-back wins.'