Kevin Doyle’s 10th senior international goal set the Republic Ireland on the road to a comfortable victory in Andorra as Giovanni Trapattoni’s men completed the first half of their mission.
Doyle’s seventh-minute strike gave Ireland an advantage they never threatened to surrender and when defender Ildefons Lima deflected Aiden McGeady’s shot into his own net 13 minutes later, the points were effectively safe.
Russia’s victory in Slovakia means they will win Group B if they beat the Andorrans at home on Tuesday evening, but a draw with Armenia will be enough to send the Republic into the Euro 2012 play-offs.
In a whirlwind start, Robbie Keane struck the bar before the Republic went ahead with seven minutes gone when, after Doyle had unwittingly blocked Keane’s shot, he reacted first to John O’Shea’s header back into the danger area and scored from close range.
Ireland sealed the win with 20 minutes gone when Glenn Whelan wrong-footed the Andorra defence with a clever free-kick to Aiden McGeady, whose drive was deflected in by Lima.