NIGEL Pearson praised the Sunderland fans after his Leicester City side secured their Premier League status.
The goalless draw in front of a near-capacity Stadium of Light crowd was enough for the Foxes, with Hull City beaten at Tottenham Hotspur.
The atmosphere here was very good but the conditions made it hard for fluent football.Nigel Pearson
Sunderland’s future remains up in the air ahead of their final two matches of the season, away at Arsenal on Wednesday and Chelsea next Sunday.
But that didn’t stop the home fans clapping the Leicester players off the pitch at the end, as they celebrated a remarkable turnaround.
The Foxes were favourites to go down at the turn of the year but had strung together six out of seven wins before today’s game.
And Pearson praised the intense atmosphere created by the passionate home support.
“It was a tough game,” admitted Pearson.
“You have to remember both sides needed something, Sunderland in their final home game before two away games.
“It is very difficult to always perform fluently and I’m sure they wanted to start quickly, like we have done at our place [recently].
“The atmosphere here was very good but the conditions made it hard for fluent football.
“We had to play the game and not the occasion.
“We wanted to win it but if we couldn’t, then it was important we didn’t concede.
“We defended set plays very well, exceptionally well, at times because Sunderland’s delivery from set plays is very good.
“Sometimes you have to tough it out and we did that today.
“Both sides proved it isn’t easy to perform under pressure but a point is a damn sight better for us, than it is for them.”
The point proved enough to seal their future in the top flight come August.
Pearson added: “We will have a low key celebration tonight.
“We have a player of the year do on Monday, which will be a decent celebration.
“The players need to enjoy it for what it is - it has been a tremendous run.
“To achieve safety with a game to go is testament to the work the players have put in.
“We can’t underplay that.”