Toby Alderweireld felt the first goal was crucial in Southampton’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City at St Mary’s on Sunday.
Yaya Toure’s goal for the champions came after Saints had made a bright start to the second half, and Alderweireld, who moved into the midfield following an injury to Morgan Schneiderlin, admitted it was difficult to take.
Following Eliaquim Mangala’s red card, Saints pushed on looking for an equaliser and Alderweireld says the visitors were able to take advantage of that.
“I think the first 20 minutes we had some difficulties, after that we didn’t give a lot away,” he said to Southampton’s official YouTube channel. “The organisation was better and we had more control of the game.
“We started the second half good I think and then they scored. Mentally it was a little bit tough. Then they got the red card so you want to put pressure on them and make it difficult.
“But a mistake from us and they got to 0-2 and it’s always going to be difficult. We were getting better and better and then if you have a goal against, it’s always difficult.
“You know when they get a red card you have to put pressure on them. They didn't make mistakes in the back and if you give them a chance they will kill the game.”
Despite defeat, Alderweireld insists Saints must not be too disheartened ahead of the game against Arsenal on Wednesday evening at the Emirates.
“We have to stay playing like this, we’re getting better and better. Our organisation is still good, I think it is difficult to break our defence down,” he added.
“We won't put our confidence down, we’ve had a lot of wins, we have a lot of quality and we have to be 100 per cent every game to show we can compete with the best.
“Wednesday there’s an opportunity to change this so we don’t have to put ourselves down, it’s a defeat but next Wednesday we have to be top.
“We have to man up, Wednesday is a very difficult and big test, but we can change that. We have to play good there.”