Kevin Doyle won a late reprieve as the Republic of Ireland attempted to edge their way closer to qualification for the Euro 2012 finals.
The Wolves striker, skipper Robbie Keane’s usual partner, was initially left out of the starting line-up to face Slovakia in favour of Shane Long, but was reinstated after the West Brom man was sidelined by a calf strain.
There was a start too for Doyle’s club-mate Stephen Ward, who took over from Kevin Kilbane at left-back as the injured Derby defender’s run of 66 consecutive competitive appearances for his country came to an end.
Slovakia skipper Marek Hamsik was included in the starting line-up despite manager Vladimir Weiss last night rating his chances at just 50-50 because of a knee problem.
Two of the Republic's Group B rivals, Russia and Armenia both recorded 1-0 and 3-0 victories over Macedonia and Andorra respectively today.
This puts Russia top of the group on 16 points, three ahead of the Boys in Green and Slovakia with Armenia just behind them on 11 points.
Rep of Ireland: Given, O’Shea, St. Ledger, Dunne, Ward, McGeady, Whelan, Andrews, Duff, Doyle, Keane.
Subs: Westwood, Foley, O’Dea, Lawrence, Hunt, Keogh, Cox.
Slovakia: Mucha, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Cech, Weiss, Karhan, Stoch, Hamsik, Kucka, Holosko.
Subs: Putnocky, Jez, Sestak, Vittek, Michalik, Jendrisek, Guede.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)