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I might have left early myself - Moyes

Sunderland boss David Moyes lamented the individual mistakes that contributed to his side's 3-1 defeat to Stoke City and said he may have joined the first-half exodus from the Stadium of Light.

The home fans poured out of the stands when Peter Crouch added to Marko Arnautovic's double to put Mark Hughes' men 3-0 up after 34 minutes - some to the refreshment stalls and some for the exits - on another abject day for the Black Cats.

Moyes felt sympathy with the home fans, saying: "The supporters here have been through it a lot.

"I might have gone early at 3-0 down but we kept at it, trying to get the second goal to rally but we couldn't manage it."

Sunderland were guilty of awful defending for Stoke's first two goals while Crouch won an aerial duel with goalkeeper Vito Mannone to collect his 99th Premier League effort.

Moyes said: "We made three dreadful individual mistakes for the goals. We gave the ball away, [there were] a couple of one-twos that we could have been cut out, and a goalkeeping mistake for the third one.

"We hadn't really done anything [at that stage], neither had Stoke but at 3-0 down we were out of the game.

"Mistakes can come at any time, the thing is to make sure you don't make too many.

"The players stuck at it and I knew if we could get another it would have been much tighter."

Moyes claimed Sunderland's overall performance was not "that bad".

He added to the BBC: "The first 20 minutes or so was really poor - all our own doing, terrible mistakes for all three goals. 

"The players need to take responsibility and stop making individual mistakes, but I didn't think our overall performance was that bad.

"The fans left early because there is only one road out here, not just because of the result."

Moyes' counterpart Hughes was understandably delighted and set his players the challenge of achieving Stoke's highest-ever Premier League finish.

He told a news conference: "We are always challenging ourselves to do things that this club has never done before and we have a chance of achieving something this season.

"We have never finished seventh or eighth in the Premier League before so that is undoubtedly our aim over the final few months of the season.

"Our long-term aim is to secure European qualification through our league finish, and whilst that looks difficult this time round, we can still achieve something very special."

The Welshman was also pleased with the response to Stoke's FA Cup exit at the hands of Wolves.

He added: "We let ourselves, and the supporters to be fair, down last weekend but bounced back, just as I expected us to.

"I said before but when we disappoint ourselves, more often than not we show an immediate response and thankfully the guys were able to do that.

"To a man I thought they were absolutely fantastic, and the football we played during the first 30 minutes or so of the first half was as good as anything we have produced away from home for several years in my opinion."