Robbie Keane's early goal brought Giovanni Trapattoni the first win of his tenure as Republic of Ireland manager as the striker's 33rd international goal saw off Colombia.
The Ireland captain struck after only three minutes when his shot was deflected past goalkeeper Robinson Zapata by defender Elvis Gonzalez.
But if the contribution of a man winning his 81st senior cap proved decisive, it was no more so than that of another earning only his 10th. Dean Kiely retired from international football five years ago after spending much of his time in the shadow of number one keeper Shay Given.
But with the Newcastle player injured, the 37-year-old has taken his chance with both hands, first in last Saturday's draw with Serbia and then at Craven Cottage last night. Kiely made a string of fine saves to protect his side's fragile lead .
Trapattoni, while knowing there is much work to be done, could content himself with a hard-fought win against talented opponents.
With Keane and Kevin Doyle linking well in attack and Keogh and Aiden McGeady repeatedly swapping wings, Trapattoni's team put the Colombian defence under pressure on several occasions.
However, with Fredy Guarin and Macnelly Torres prompting from midfield and Edixon Perea and Juan Carlos Escobar keeping the Irish defence at full stretch, Kiely's goal came under threat at regular intervals and Ireland can be grateful to their keeper that they managed to hang on.
Republic of Ireland: Kiely; O'Shea, Dunne, McShane, Delaney; McGeady, Miller, Whelan, Keogh (Hoolahan, 89); Keane, Doyle (Murphy, 86).
Colombia: R Zapata; C Zapata, Bustos (Vallejo, h-t), Luis Amaranto Perea (W Moreno, 66), Gonzalez (Armero, 70); Guarin, Sanchez, Escobar (Soto, 65), Torres (Hernandez, 73); Edixon Perea, Garcia (Polo, 65).
Referee: M Clattenburg (England).Reuse content