Referee cost Norwich in Sunderland defeat - Neil

Alex Neil felt the penalty decision and a failure to award Sebastien Bassong a free-kick cost Norwich City a result against Sunderland.

Norwich City boss Alex Neil was left aggrieved at key decisions which went against his side in their 3-0 defeat to Sunderland on Saturday.

Fabio Borini opened the scoring from the penalty spot after a challenge from Andre Wisdom, before Jermain Defoe doubled the lead just after the break and Duncan Watmore struck a third in stoppage time.

Borini claimed Wisdom risked breaking his leg as he planted a foot onto the ankle of the Italian forward and insisted the decision to award the penalty was correct.

While conceding it was a tough call, Neil was frustrated that referee Andre Marriner did not award a free-kick for Jan Kirchhoff's challenge on Sebastien Bassong in the build-up to Defoe's killer second.

"We've lost a game so we can't look back and think it's a missed opportunity, because we didn't win," he told BBC Sport.

"I think the penalty is one where Andre Wisdom makes contact with the ball and then the player afterwards. You could argue whether it's a penalty or not. For me, the second goal is certainly a free-kick on Bassong. That cost us the game.

"First half, we had good opportunities and didn't really take them. Second half, we looked really threatening, hit the post, and I thought the goal was going to come. Their second took the wind out of our sails.

"I don't think it was a three-nothing game but you need to take it on the chin."

The result leaves Norwich a point above Sunderland in 17th place in the table, but Sam Allardyce's side will climb above them should they secure at least a point in their game in hand.

Neil denied that his side's mindset should now be any different over the final four games of the season, but concedes they must "do it the hard way" if they are to survive.

"The one thing we've got in our mind is two teams are still chasing us," he added. "But if we're going to stay up, we need to do it the hard way. 

"We need to win games - that's always been the case."