The Foxes had previously lost four in a row without a goal but they broke that streak against the Black Cats and escaped the relegation zone, albeit briefly if Crystal Palace can draw with Liverpool on Sunday.
Riyad Mahrez was the hosts’ most creative influence and although he came close twice it was not enough for Leicester to break their duck and claim their first victory in two months.
Sunderland, ultimately, had the best chance of the game – Steven Fletcher was brilliantly denied by Kasper Schmeichel in what passed as the match’s best opportunity to score.
The hosts roared into a bright beginning, almost aided by a terrible Wes Brown error in the sixth minute. His slip allowed Jamie Vardy through on goal but as he tried to round Costel Pantilimon, the Sunderland goalkeeper forced him wide.
After Leicester failed to make their dominant start count for anything, Fletcher missed the clearest chance of the afternoon. With just Schmeichel to beat, the keeper burst off his line and smothered the Scottish striker’s effort.
The visitors will have been disappointed to go into the break level. Adam Johnson whipped a 30-yard shot that skimmed off the wet surface and brought the best out of Schmeichel before Seb Larsson was denied by a committed Wes Morgan block.
Leicester couldn’t replicate their bright start to the match after the half-time break. Fletcher again missed a good chance – a corner was drilled into his feet but he wildly blasted it over.
Mahrez, meanwhile, increased the volume of the home crowd with his every touch. The Algerian could have had a penalty for handball when John O’Shea blocked his shot but would come even closer soon after. Elusive skill inside the box left two Sunderland defenders behind but Mahrez’s shot was turned behind by Pantilimon. It was clear his luck was out when, running through on goal and taking the ball expertly on his chest, he was grounded by Anthony Reveillere but the referee wasn’t interested.
As both sides toiled for the opening goal, tensions were raised typically by Lee Cattermole’s competitiveness. He flew in on Esteban Cambiasso, drawing a yellow card although Leicester demanded more, before Larsson escaped a second booking further annoying the hosts.
Matty James, in Leicester’s midfield, did his best to muster a goal with a clever one-two but a feeble shot at the keeper wasn’t enough. Nigel Pearson was proactive in thrusting his men forward by introducing Anthony Knockaert and Chris Wood in the last 10 minutes but it was too little, too late.
Leicester have not scored in five games (since Mahrez in the 2-2 draw with Burnley on October 4) but they do rise to 17th place in the Premier League pending Palace’s result against Liverpool on Sunday.
Matt Le Tissier
“If they were still playing on Tuesday it would still be 0-0. There was a lot of graft but there wasn’t a great deal of quality in and around the final third.
“Mahrez and Schlupp had chances but there wasn’t a great deal else to chew on. Mahrez, for patches of the game, looked very dangerous but they couldn’t break them down. There was no real quality there.
“In the last half hour of the first half, Sunderland dominated and Fletcher had a great chance you would have expected him to finish. Then Adam Johnson had a shot from outside the box which looked like it was going in until Schmeichel tipped it around the corner. That was as close as either team came, really.”