SUNDERLAND registered a seventh draw from 12 Premier League outings after a stalemate at Leicester City today.
Gus Poyet’s side extended their unbeaten run to three games, yet were left cursing the reflexes of Foxes stopper Kasper Schmeicel for their inability to register maximum points at the King Power Stadium.
Schmeicel produced a stunning first half save to deny Steven Fletcher before the Dane managed another excellent stop to keep out Adam Johnson’s awkward long-range effort.
Leicester enjoyed their best opportunities after the break, yet both sides struggled to create clear-cut opportunities in the closing stages.
Lee Cattermole returned from suspension to reclaim his place in the starting XI ahead of Liam Bridcutt, in the only change made to the side by Poyet.
There was also a place on the bench for fit-again Sebastian Coates.
Leicester boss Nigel Pearson made two changes with Paul Konchesky and Riyad Mahrez preferred to Danny Drinkwater and Andy King.
Sunderland had a scare in the sixth minute after Robert Madley somehow failed to award a free-kick for a rugged aerial challenge on Lee Cattermole.
Anthony Reveillere passed the ball backwards to Wes Brown, whose first touch was poor and let in Jamie Vardy, only for Costel Pantilimon to deflect the ball behind as the Leicester striker attempted to round him.
The Foxes again should have made more of an opportunity in the 13th minute after a brilliant through-ball from Mahrez sent Jeff Schlupp in behind Santiago Vergini down the left-hand side of the area.
Schlupp had blue shirts to pick out in the area, but he fires harmlessly into the side netting at the near post.
It took Sunderland until almost the midway point of the first half to settle, and it required a magnificent save from Kasper Schmeicel to prevent the Black Cats opening the scoring in the 23rd minute.
Jordi Gomez fizzed the ball into the path of Adam Johnson on the edge of area, who helped it on to Steven Fletcher, with a clear sight of goal, eight yards out.
Fletcher thrashed a left-footed shot towards the far corner, but Schmeicel did brilliantly to block the ball behind with his chest.
Schmeicel produced another quality save on the half-hour mark when Larsson took a free-kick short to Johnson, who let fly with a dipping left-footed shot from 25 yards.
It bounced awkwardly for Schmeicel low to his right, but he just managed to tip it behind.
HALF-TIME Leicester 0 Sunderland 0
Pantilimon was called into action within six minutes of the restart when midfielder Matty James burst into the area before hitting a left-footed shot that was blocked well by the Sunderland keeper.
Leicester went close again moments later when Esteban Cambiasso spread the ball to Mahrez on the right-hand side of the area.
Mahrez sold Brown with a dummy before firing a shot towards the near post which was sent behind by an excellent block from Anthony Reveillere.
James had another opportunity to break the deadlock in the 67th minute when he played a neat one-two with Ulloa and ran onto the reverse pass, 15 yards out, only for Pantilimon to smartly save his right-footed shot.
Moments later, Fletcher was sent free in behind the Leicester down the left, but with little other option, had to let fly from an acute angle which Schmeicel parried behind at his near post.
FULL-TIME Leicester 0 Sunderland 0
LEICESTER: Schmeicel, De Laet, Morgan, Wasilewski, Konchesky, Schlupp (Knockaert 78), James, Cambiasso, Mahrez, Vardy (Nugent 72), Ulloa (Wood 88). Subs not used: Drinkwater, King, Hamer, Moore. Booked: Vardy (53), De Laet (85)
SUNDERLAND: Pantilimon, Vergini, O’Shea, Brown, Reveillere, Cattermole, Gomez (Buckley 86), Larsson (Bridcutt 75), Johnson, Wickham, Fletcher. Subs not used: Rodwell, Altidore, Coates, Mannone, Robson. Booked: Larsson (42), Cattermole (61), Fletcher (68)