PARIS - Bosnia-Herzegovina reached their first ever major finals yesterday as a 1-0 win over Lithuania saw them confirm their place at next year's World Cup.
They will be joined by holders Spain, who made no mistake in beating Georgia 2-0 at home in Albacete, and England, who also won 2-0 at home to Poland to reach their fifth successive World Cup finals.
England's manager from their failed 2010 finals campaign Fabio Capello will also be in Brazil after Russia got the point they needed with a 1-1 away draw at Azerbaijan.
It will be the 2018 World Cup hosts' first World Cup finals since 2002.
Bosnia — who had lost to Portugal in play-offs for the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 — progress at the expense of Greece, who go into the play-offs, while Portugal finish runners-up to Russia and will also contest a winner takes all play-off.
Vedad Ibisevic was Bosnia's hero as he scored what was the most important of his 20 international goals as the 29-year-old Stuttgart striker struck in the 68th minute.
His sidefooted effort came just two minutes after he had seen another shot brilliantly saved by Giederius Arlauskas, who had denied Bosnia throughout the match in a stunning performance.
Arlausakas's performance could be put into the context that only the Germans and the Dutch have scored more goals in the qualifying games than the Bosnians.
Greece by contrast have failed to sparkle in front of goal and were only able to beat Liechtenstein 2-0 in Athens.
Dimitris Salpingidis scored in the seventh minute but the goal shy Greeks — who had only scored 10 goals going into the match from their previous nine qualifiers — failed to add to that until veteran Giorgos Karagounis, appearing in his 130th game for the national side, scored with a free kick nine minutes from time.
Greece coach Fernandos Santos, who was praised for guiding unfancied Greece to last year's Euro 2012 quarter-finals, said his side were unfortunate to have to contest the play-offs with the points they had accrued.