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Alex Neil proud of Sunderland despite loss at Sheffield United

Sheffield United v Sunderland – Sky Bet Championship – Bramall Lane
(Image credit: Isaac Parkin)

Sunderland boss Alex Neil expressed pride in his team despite their 2-1 loss at Sheffield United.

Goals from Anel Ahmedhodzic and Max Lowe, either side of the break, gave the Blades victory.

After being forced to play with only 10 men for around an hour following Dan Neil’s sending off, Sunderland reduced the arrears with a goal from Lynden Gooch, but they never seriously threatened to draw level.

Neil said: “I don’t have any mixed emotions at all. I have pride in my players in terms of how they went about it.

“We made in error in the game, which can happen, particularly if you’re going to try and risk the ball that we did.

“Unfortunately, we make a mistake, they capitalise on it and we get a man sent-off and then the job becomes really difficult at that point.

“I thought the effort levels were through the roof, really, because Sheffield United are a very, very good team. For 30 minutes, I thought we more than matched them.

“The one frustration I probably do have is the timing of the second goal. I think when you come out and you’ve got 10 men, you need to keep the next 10 or 15 minutes as tight as you can.”

The visitors were reduced to 10 men when Neil was sent-off in the 31st minute.

After James McAtee nipped in to win possession following a hesitant touch from Neil, he was brought down by the Sunderland player as he raced towards goal and referee James Linington immediately brandished a red card.

Sheffield United are now unbeaten in three matches after defeat in their season opener.

Boss Paul Heckingbottom believed his side got better as the match wore on.

Heckingbottom said: “I thought the first half we weren’t as composed on the ball as we wanted to be. Credit to Sunderland – they stepped onto us and took risks. Fair play to them.

“I thought we settled down a bit as the game went on. We needed to be better in the second half and then we were. The problem is, when you give a goal away like that, it just changes the dynamic.

“We forced the error pressing high and robbing the ball. It’s a red card but then you want to compound that, and we did that.

“The start of the second half, we showed a lot more composure on the ball, moved it a lot quicker and before you know it, then you’ve got bodies up the pitch and you can start to score the goals that we did like that.”

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