Ciaran Clark scored a first-half header as Republic of Ireland boosted their Euro 2016 preparations with a 1-0 win over Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium.
The Aston Villa defender got on the end of Shane Duffy’s flick-on from Robbie Brady’s corner to put the Green Army in front after just two minutes, which proved decisive in the end in Dublin.
A dampener for Martin O’Neill’s side on the night was the sight of Kevin Doyle, making his return after almost two years away from the international scene, being stretchered off with a serious-looking injury.
Shane Long struck the crossbar with a header in the opening period, before Switzerland came close to equalising late on as debutant Shani Tarashaj’s shot deflected off Breel Embolo and almost creeped into the far corner.
Ireland’s attacking ambition gave way to impressively dogged defending during the second period and O’Neill’s men will head into Tuesday’s match against Slovakia with plenty of encouragement.
The hosts began on the front foot and they were soon rewarded as Brady’s second well-delivered corner in succession was met by Duffy and nodded home by his centre-back partner Clark.
Blerim Dzemaili and Haris Seferovic passed up opportunities to level as Switzerland offered an enthusiastic response shortly afterwards.
Doyle had a near-post header from Aiden McGeady’s corner cleared off the line by Ricardo Rodriguez, but the Colorado Rapids striker’s first international appearance since October 2014 ended abruptly after a 21st-minute challenge with Timm Klose.
A lengthy period of treatment followed before the former Reading man was taken to hospital – his outside chance of making the O’Neill’s Euro 2016 squad now appearing to be all but over.
Home goalkeeper Darren Randolph held his nerve in the 34th minute when Granit Xhaka’s speculative effort deflected off team-mate Seferovic.
Long came agonisingly close to doubling Ireland’s advantage, but his header from Seamus Coleman’s cross crashed down off the crossbar.
Dzemaili was booked for a ridiculous dive in the area after 40 minutes and Switzerland could not get back on terms by the interval.
Switzerland were able to dictate the early second-half action from midfield, Borussia Monchengladbach star Xhaka exercising an easy control over proceedings, but the unfamiliar Ireland line-up held their shape impressively and worked tirelessly to protect Randolph.
Switzerland almost pulled level seven minutes from time when Tarashaj shot narrowly wide with Randolph rooted to the spot, while another debutant substitute – Ireland’s Eunan O’Kane – fired past the post following some slack defending.
There were no similar errors from the Irish back four, with which Clark could reflect on a decisive contribution.
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