Under-fire Sunderland manager David Moyes defended his players after they compounded a torrid few days at the club by losing 2-0 to Leicester City.
Moyes was criticised in the days leading up to the game for comments he made to a reporter in March but his rock bottom side were still very much in the game with the score at 0-0 after an hour at the King Power Stadium.
It was only when Foxes manager Craig Shakespeare sent on Marc Albrighton and Islam Slimani that the game turned, and it was the Algerian striker who scored from Albrighton's cross after 69 minutes.
Albrighton was the provider again when Jamie Vardy added a second to make sure of a fifth consecutive Premier League win for Leicester, but Moyes did not think Shakespeare's resurgent side deserved all three points.
"I didn't think they'd find their form tonight," Moyes told BBC Sport. "I thought we had done enough to be in front, or at least to have drawn.
"I don't think Leicester had the form we've seen in recent weeks. I actually thought we had played well and made it difficult for them."
Moyes sent on Victor Anichebe as a late substitute and he hit the post shortly before Vardy doubled Leicester's lead.
The Sunderland boss said the return to fitness of Anichebe, Jermain Defoe and Lee Cattermole would be important to his side's hopes of avoiding the drop.
"We've got more players coming back," said Moyes. "Victor is a really important player for us and I thought Cattermole played very well tonight in the time he was on.
"I couldn't really fault the players, apart from the way we didn't do a couple of simple things right at the right moments."
Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare praised his substitutes after they ensured his 100 per cent record since taking over from Claudio Ranieri remained intact.
He said: "We weren't at our best tonight, but the points were the most important thing.
"You want subs to make an impact, and Marc [Albrighton] and [Islam] Slimani both did that.
"Marc has great delivery and Islam is a threat in the box. We had to be patient and knew we would have to be. I am pleased for everyone at the club with the run we're on."