England survived a night of tension to qualify for the World Cup after Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard secured a 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.
Needing victory to conserve top spot in European qualifying Group H, England met their objective thanks to a 41st-minute header from Rooney and a late strike from the captain, Gerrard.
It was an evening of cloying intensity for Roy Hodgson’s side, however, as Poland, backed by around 18,000 raucous fans, threatened to pull off a repeat of their 1-1 draw in London 40 years ago that had denied England a place at the 1974 World Cup.
Instead, a pair of goals made in Merseyside saw England home, meaning that Hodgson can now look forward to becoming only the sixth Englishman to lead England at a World Cup in Brazil next year.
They finished the campaign unbeaten, a point clear at the top of the group above Ukraine, whose 8-0 win away to San Marino was to prove in vain, with Poland nine points off the pace in fourth place.
Wild celebrations broke loose in the central square in Sarajevo after Bosnia qualified for their first World Cup as an independent nation.
Almost 10,000 delirious fans jumped, cried and screamed ‘Vamos Bosnia’ – or ‘Go Bosnia’ – when striker Vedad Ibisevic scored in the 68th minute to secure a 1-0 win over Lithuania in Kaunas.
For many Bosnians, football success has been a rare cause for celebration since the country descended into nearly four years of war two decades ago.
The conflict killed over 100,000 people and left a legacy of poverty, high unemployment and never-ending political strife.
Fans headed to the airport after the game to wait for their team to arrive in the middle of the night and join the party.
Defending champions Spain also secured their place at the 2014 World Cup by beating Georgia 2-0 to automatically advance as winners of Group I, pushing France into the playoffs.
Spain’s victory rendered France’s 3-0 win against Finland meaningless as Spain needed just one point to secure passage to Brazil.
Andres Iniesta marked the match played near his hometown by feeding Alvaro Negredo for Spain’s first-half opener, and substitute Juan Mata doubled Spain’s advantage after the break.
Russia joined the 17 other nations already through to Brazil with a 1-1 draw to Azerbaijan thanks to an early goal from Roman Shirokov that secured top spot of Group F and consigned Portugal to the playoffs.