Ireland's Group D rivals Germany and Georgia both won as World Cup hosts Brazil demolished South Africa and France beat The Netherlands.
Mario Gotze's first-half strike proved the difference as Germany edged out Chile in Stuttgart, although Joachim Low's side can count themselves fortunate to come away with a 1-0 win.
Low may be pleased that Gotze's 16th-minute effort gave his side an impressive scalp as they build towards this summer's World Cup, but Chile proved they will be no pushovers in Brazil.
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had to make a couple of timely saves and on the one occasion he was beaten, Eduardo Vargas saw his strike cannon off the crossbar.
In the meeting of two other Group D contenders, Scotland had an impressive 1-0 win in Poland thanks to captain Scott Brown's strike.
Georgia beat minnows Liechtenstein 2-0 in Tbilisi thanks to goals from Giorgi Chanturia and Jano Ananidze (penalty).
Gibraltar lost 2-0 at home to Estonia, Dmitri Kruglov and Rimo Hunt on target.
A Neymar hat-trick inspired World Cup hosts Brazil to a comfortable 5-0 defeat over South Africa in Johannesburg.
Oscar got the ball rolling on 10 minutes before Neymar grabbed his first just before half-time.
The Barcelona star took just seconds after the re-start to score again and, after Fernandinho got in on the act, Neymar completed his treble in injury time.
The 22-year-old has now scored 30 goals in 47 internationals for Brazil - leaving him just two goals outside the country's all-time top-10 scorers.
Brazil changed shirts from their traditional yellow to blue at half-time.
Karim Benzema and Blaise Matuidi were on target as France claimed a 2-0 friendly victory over Holland at the Stade de France in Paris.
Real Madrid striker Benzema put the home side ahead just after the half-hour mark with Matuidi adding a second less than 10 minutes later.
An injury time strike by substitute Max Gradel allowed Ivory Coast to grab a 2-2 draw with Belgium.
A Marouane Fellaini header from a corner in the first half and a tight-angled shot from little-used midfielder Radja Nainggolan early in the second ensured what looked like a comfortable two-goal cushion for Belgium.
However, Didier Drogba muscled past Belgium's defence to pull one back for the visitors with less than 20 minutes to play and a minute into injury time, Gradel slammed in a poor clearance to bring Ivory Coast level.