The hosts had goalkeeper Michalis Morfis sent off after 41 minutes but still managed to take the lead shortly after through Stathis Aloneftis.

Slovakia, who hammered the Cypriots 6-1 in the reverse fixture in September 2006, moved through the gears in the second period, however, and goals from Robert Vittek, Martin Skrtel and Martin Jakubko sealed a win which moved them on to nine points, just one behind joint leaders Germany and the Czech Republic who meet later on Saturday.

Slovakia almost stunned the home supporters at the GSP Stadium inside the first two minutes but Morfis was in the right place to gather Dusan Svento's crisp drive.

Slovakia were certainly the better side in the opening stages with Jakubko the next man to come close with a shot from 12 yards which drifted wide of the left post.

The visitors continued their dominance as the game approached the half hour mark with Morfis again called into action to parry Vratislav Gresko's 20-yard free-kick.

Slovakia's stranglehold on proceedings looked to have moved up a notch when, in the 41st minute, Morfis was sent off after hauling down Dusan Svento after the midfielder had burst through.

The hosts reshuffled with Antonis Georgallides coming on between the posts and Georgos Theodotou making way.

Georgallides made an immediate contribution, palming away Marek Sapara's effort.

Having spent most of the first half on the back foot, the 10-men of Cyprus took a shock lead a minute before the break.

Constantinos Charalambidis' shot was parried by Kamil Contofalsky and Aloneftis was on hand to stab home the rebound.

New Slovakia coach Jan Kocian clearly had words with his troops at half-time as they emerged with a great deal more conviction after the interval.

Vittek equalised when he converted Marek Sapara's cross after 54 minutes and Skrtel's fine volley put them in front 13 minutes later.

Jakubko completed the turnaround with 14 minutes to go by heading home Jan Kozak's centre.

The visitors could have had a fourth with three minutes left but Igor Zofcak's effort rebounded back off the post.