Republic of Ireland will now face Wales in a huge FIFA World Cup qualifying showdown after easing past Moldova in Dublin.
FIFA World Cup qualifier: Republic of Ireland 2-0 Moldova
Daryl Murphy scored twice as Republic of Ireland kept alive its hopes of qualifying for next year's FIFA World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Moldova.
Having scored just once in his previous 28 appearances, Murphy trebled his international tally at Aviva Stadium, including breaking the deadlock inside two minutes.
After volleying the hosts ahead from close range, the striker added a second with a clever header to help Ireland record its first competitive win since a 1-0 triumph in Austria last November.
Moldova was reduced to 10 men when Alexandru Gatcan was shown a straight red card for barging into Harry Arter, with three points that mean Martin O'Neill's side remains in the hunt for a top-two finish in Group D secured.
Only a win will do when they visit second-place Wales on Tuesday (AEST), while leader Serbia completes its campaign by hosting Georgia on the same date.
The final margin of victory would have been greater had Shane Long taken any of the three glorious chances that came his way.
There were no such issues for Murphy, who in the absence of Jonathan Walters, made the most of the opportunity to start by scoring twice in the opening 20 minutes.
Reacting quickly to a flick-on from a long throw on the left, the Nottingham Forest forward beat his defender on the stretch to provide the finishing touch.
Murphy's second was an even better finish, though. Despite moving away from goal, he adjusted his body to meet Stephen Ward's deep cross with a looping header that had enough height to clear goalkeeper Ilie Cebanu and dip into the far corner of the net.
Moldova's best opportunity in the opening half saw a speculative volley by Sergiu Platica force Darren Randolph to acrobatically tip over the bar.
Ireland struggled for fluency in a tepid second half, but never appeared in any danger of allowing the underdog to bite back.
After twice fluffing his lines before the break, Long appeared set to score when Callum O'Dowda's shot was deflected into his path. However, with most of the goal to aim at, the forward stabbed the loose ball agonisingly wide of the target, much to his obvious frustration.
Moldova barely offered much of a fight until it came to stoppage-time, Gatcan shown a straight red after colliding with Arter.
While the substitute certainly felt the contact, Ireland escaped a potential knockout blow to its hopes of making it to Russia 2018.