Wayne Rooney was left with a feeling of déjà vu as Derby County were beaten 2-1 at Swansea City on Saturday afternoon.
After a goalless first half in the driving rain in South Wales, Derby took the lead just after half-time as Tom Lawrence stooped to head home Nathan Byrne’s excellent cross from the right-hand side.
Former Ram Morgan Whittaker equalised just after the hour mark from close range, before Connor Roberts turned the game on its head completely just three minutes later with a thumping finish from inside the box.
Rooney’s side pushed for a late equaliser but were instead left to taste defeat for the third time in four matches after taking the lead.
The result, Derby’s sixth successive defeat in the league, leaves them three points clear of the Sky Bet Championship’s bottom three with just one match left to play.
Rotherham United, who are directly behind Derby in 22nd spot, have two games left to play and a better goal difference – meaning the fight for survival will go down to the final day.
Speaking to RamsTV after the game at the Liberty Stadium, Rooney said: “As I have said to the players in the dressing room; I can’t fault their effort - but we have to stop giving these goals away.
“It is almost a replica of games that we have played hover the last few weeks. I thought we deserved to get something out of the game today, but a few minutes where we conceded two goals has really cost us.
“It is the same thing every week and we must react better to conceding a goal.
“The first goal was a poor one for us to concede, the second was a good goal from their point of view, but when you concede you can still be positive in your reaction and still win the game.
“The disappointing thing is when you concede a second so quickly, it is hard to come back from.”
The 35-year-old added: “I thought we kept pushing to get the equaliser, but it wasn’t to be.”
Derby will conclude the 2020/21 campaign with a home fixture against Sheffield Wednesday at Pride Park Stadium next Saturday (12:30pm kick-off).
Wednesday are also three points behind the Rams, and with a better goal difference, which means there will be plenty riding on the game and a nail-biting finale.
Rooney said: “We have to get our preparations right and be ready for next Saturday.
“We have to go and win the game against Sheffield Wednesday; it is as simple as that.
“We know what we have to do; we have to win the game and we are relying, again, on Rotherham to drop points.”