Ciaran Clark strikes as Ireland warm up for Euro 2016 with win against Switzerland
Ireland 1 Switzerland 0
CIARAN Clark’s early winner at Lansdowne Road claimed Ireland a morale-boosting friendly win over Switzerland on a night Shane Duffy made a strong case for inclusion in the Euros squad.
During a game of few chances, Ireland struck in the second minute against a Swiss side neat in possession yet blunt in attack.
The lack of goalscoring chances throughout for Ireland may be a concern too for the Euros but that analysis may wait till closer to the tournament.
Martin O’Neill handed a debut to Alan Judge, who put in a workmanlike shift over the 90 minutes, while Jonathan Hayes and Eunan O’Kane made their bows from the bench.
The one low-point of the night was a serious looking injury to Kevin Doyle.
O’Neill handed man-of-the-match Duffy his second cap, almost 21 months on from his first, and the gangly centre-back made an instant impression by playing a major part in the opener after just two minutes.
Robbie Brady’s pinpoint corner was hung in the air long enough for Duffy to nod down into the path of fellow centre-back Clark who headed home from six yards.
Doyle, in his first outing for Ireland in 18 months, almost doubled the lead on 11 minutes from a flicked volley from another corner which Ricardo Rodriguez booted off the line.
The Swiss, with €40-million rated Granit Xhaka harnessing midfield, enjoyed spells of dominance without unduly testing Darren Randolph.
Their best chance came of the first half from Haris Seferovic’s header from a corner which looped a yard over.
Then came Doyle’s moment of misfortune midway through the half. He came out worst from a challenge against Norwich City full-back Timm Klose, leaving him hobbling and then static on the pitch.
The reaction of his pal Shane Long told him as the stretcher was called and his Euro 2016 ambitions must now be in serious doubt.
Eight minutes before the break, Long was close to scoring only for the underside of the crossbar to deny his header following a right-wing cross from Seamus Coleman.
The second half was distinctly lacking goalmouth action, as both managers emptied their bench. For the Swiss, six minutes from time, a wicked shot from Shani Tarasaj deflected off Breel Embolo and spun fractionally wide.
At the other end, substitute O’Kane could have nicked a second in the last minute after he cut out a wayward pass and charged towards goal. His curling shot from 25 yards whistled past the post.
O'Neill will likely mix it up for Tuesday's workout against Slovakia, as John O'Shea and Jonathan Walters are expected to make the starting XI.
IRELAND: Randolph; Coleman, Duffy, Clark, Brady; Judge, Meyler (O’Kane 61), Quinn (McCarthy 62), McGeady (Hayes 61); Doyle (Murphy 27, Hoolahan 79), Long (McClean 84) .
SWITZERLAND: Sommer; Lang (Widmer 82), Schar, Klose, Rodriguez (Moubandje 79); Dzemaili (Tarashaj 72), Xhaka, Behrami (Fernandes 72); Mehmedi (Kasami 72), Seferovic (Steffan 62), Embolo.
Referee: M Zelinka (CZE)