The second Irish victory at Croke Park puts Ireland in joint first on 13 points in Group D with the Czech Republic and Germany. However the Germans have only played five games to the Czechs’ six and Ireland’s seven. Slovakia (now fourth on 9 points) have played six games. Wales, who picked up three points with a 3-0 home victory over San Marino, are fifth in the group with Cyprus sixth.
Ireland’s goal came when an in-swinging free-kick by Damien Duff was met by Wexford native Doyle’s glancing header on the near post. Doyle’s Reading colleague Shane Long came close twice in the second half. Slovakia, too, had their share of chances but the work of goalkeeper Shay Given and official man-of-the-match Richard Dunne in central defense protected the Irish lead for the win.
Northern Ireland’s win has put them top of Group F. Sweden went ahead in the 24th minute, but the home side pulled back four minutes later with a Healy strike from 18 yards and he got the winner with near-post flick in the 60th minute.