Ciaran Clark’s early goal was enough to give the Republic of Ireland a 1-0 friendly win over fellow Euro 2016 qualifiers Switzerland, although there were injury concerns in Dublin for Kevin Doyle.
Ireland boss Martin O’Neill made good on his pre-match pledge to field fringe players battling for places in his squad for France later this year.
Brentford midfielder Alan Judge made his debut in an experimental XI that started confidently and took a second-minute lead through Aston Villa defender Clark.
Switzerland controlled plenty of the play in what was, at times, an unexpectedly feisty contest, but Vladimir Petrovic’s side lacked cutting edge in the injury absence of Stoke City forward Xherdan Shaqiri.
Shane Long hit the crossbar for Ireland after seeing recalled strike partner Doyle leave the field on a stretcher with a gash to his left leg – a potentially sad ending to a 62-cap international career.
The Republic’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.
Ireland began on the front foot and they were soon rewarded as Robbie Brady’s second well-delivered corner in succession was met by Shane 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.
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 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.
In the 67th minute, Dzemaili was starved of room as he headed into the goalkeeper’s hands.
Switzerland almost pulled level seven minutes from time when Shani 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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