Sunderland manager Steve Bruce bemoaned his defence and the officials after Stoke staged a late comeback to win 3-2 at the Britannia Stadium.
The Black Cats were heading for three points after Asamoah Gyan's ninth goal of the season put them 2-1 up early in the second half - after John Carew had cancelled out Kieran Richardson's second-minute opener - but Robert Huth scored a late brace to stun the visitors.
"It is tough. It is always difficult when you lose a game you don't think you should do," Bruce said. "We have spoken all week about defending set-pieces - you have to be brave, you have to head it. But you also need the officials to do their job as well and Carew is a yard offside for the first one."
Bruce added: "But I also needed my goalkeeper and defenders to control the 18-yard box better than we did and unfortunately it has cost us the match.
"The second goal is also dubious if you watch it. You need your players to be strong but you need the officials to do their job and they've not done it properly.
"The two decisions for the first two goals are bad enough. Carew's offside is blatant and it is the linesman's job to spot that."
Stoke manager Tony Pulis admitted even he could not clear up the confusion over the scorer of their second goal, initially credited to Carew but then given to Huth.
He said he had left the two players to argue about it in the dressing room after the game.
"They are fighting over it as we speak but it doesn't matter to me," said the Potters boss. "Robert is desperately disappointed with the two goals we have conceded and obviously he is going to try to claim the two he claims he scored.
"I have no problems with that at all. It makes no difference, as long as we scored."