Martin O'Neill

Players' effort pleases boss

by Stuart Vose

O'Neill reflects on loss despite late surge.

Martin O’Neill said his side did “just about everything” apart from score as they suffered a narrow defeat to Arsenal.

The London club took the lead through Santi Cazorla in the closing stages of the first half but were left clinging on as Sunderland dominated the majority of the second 45 minutes.

It was a fantastic effort by the team in the second half

- Martin O'Neill

Wojciech Szczesny twice denied Steven Fletcher, while a host of other chances came and went as the visitors hung on.

“It was a fantastic game of football,” O’Neill told SAFC TV afterwards.

“The early chances at either end set the pattern for the rest of the game.

I think Simon Mignolet made some good saves for us and their goalkeeper was a tower for them in the second half.”

O’Neill said he “couldn’t have asked for anything more” from his players in the second period.

And he was particularly pleased with their efforts given the quality in the ranks of an Arsenal outfit who are looking to break back into the top four.

“Arsenal are a fine side and they caused us a few problems – we tried to deal with them as best we could,” he said.

“It was a fantastic effort by the team in the second half. We couldn’t get the ball over the line, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.”

O'Neill added: “Obviously as we were pressing they had an opportunity or two to put the game beyond us – in that aspect we had a bit of luck, but at the other end we had none.”