Ciaran Clark (right) was the Republic of Ireland's match-winner against Switzerland.

Martin O'Neill hails centre-back pairing after Republic of Ireland's win

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Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill hailed centre-back pairing Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy after seeing them punish fellow Euro 2016 finalists Switzerland at both ends of the pitch.

Aston Villa's Clark and Blackburn counterpart Duffy not only played significant roles in their side's clean sheet, but combined for the former to score the game's only goal.

A delighted O'Neill, who used the depth of his squad in the first of two friendlies inside five days, said: "The two centre-backs did very, very well indeed.

"Clark, who I have known anyway from Aston Villa days, a young lad, captain of the youth team at that time coming through, and he has come on very strongly in the games.

"He played brilliantly in the last two matches of the qualification group for us and he has carried it on tonight, and his partner beside him, young Duffy, I thought did very, very well indeed.

"Shane did very well, and that's great. I took him [on an end-of-season trip] to America with us a couple of years ago when he was at Everton at the time, but he was on loan at Yeovil, and he showed a bit of promise there.

"I think now with playing regularly with Blackburn, it's given him that wee bit of extra confidence. I thought he dealt with things tonight very well indeed."

The game was decided with just two minutes gone when Duffy headed Robbie Brady's corner goalwards and Clark applied the finishing touch for his second international goal.

Keeper Darren Randolph had few saves of note to make on the night, although he was relieved to see substitute Shani Tarashaj scuff a shot wide with time running down.

Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic went into the game having controversially left captain Gokhan Inler out of his squad for the first time in 10 years because of his lack of action for club Leicester.

However, he insisted Inler's absence was not the sole cause of a disappointing display.

Petkovic said: "Gokhan Inler is a player who can be very helpful to any team when he is in full shape. Tonight, he was not on the pitch, so there is no comment to make on this.

"Congratulations to the Irish team for the win. They deserved to win this game. We knew beforehand that one single moment could be decisive in this game and we were really unlucky that we had that moment after just 100 seconds."

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