Mark Hughes said referee Craig Pawson “played a part” in Sunderland claiming a point at Stoke City after awarding a “soft” late penalty.
The Black Cats looked set to suffer a hugely costly defeat in their battle against relegation after Marko Arnautovic put the hosts ahead in the 50th minute.
Sunderland offered little, but Jermain Defoe won an injury-time penalty when he went down under Geoff Cameron’s challenge and then confidently dispatched his 14th Premier League goal of the season.
Sam Allardyce said didn’t think “anybody could complain” about the penalty and also argued Arnautovic’s goal should have been disallowed for a foul by Peter Crouch on Younes Kaboul and that his side should have had a penalty in the first half for a handball by Cameron.
Hughes, not surprisingly, saw Defoe’s penalty differently to his opposite number, saying: “I thought it was a soft one.”
The Welshman could at least reflect on a much better performance as Stoke’s run of conceding four goals in three consecutive games came to an end, but he was left to rue Pawson’s late call.
Hughes said: “We’d seen off everything quite comfortably and had chances to put the game to bed.
“We’re disappointed because performance wise it was significantly better than we’ve been able to produce in recent weeks but I think we all felt the referee played a part in allowing them to get something out of the game, which I didn’t think they really deserved.
“I just felt that the only way Sunderland were going to take anything out of the game was if a decision went against us which, unfortunately, it did today.
“We were more than worthy of the win.”