First-timers Bosnia joined holders Spain, England and Russia in grabbing Europe’s remaining automatic spots for the 2014 World Cup finals on Tuesday as the last round of group matches ended in joy, despair and shattered nerves.
Fireworks lit the skies across Bosnia whose fans celebrated qualifying for their first major tournament as an independent nation, while bigger European names like France, Portugal and Greece were consigned to the playoffs.
There was heartbreak for Denmark, who pummelled Malta 6-0 to finish second behind Italy in Group B but were the unlucky team to miss out on the playoff spots available for the eight best runners-up from the nine European groups.
Iceland kept alive their hopes of reaching their first finals when a 1-1 draw in Norway ensured they finished second behind Group E winners Switzerland to put them in the hat for Monday’s draw for November’s two-legged ties.
The other countries who also get another chance to snap up a ticket to Brazil are Romania, Ukraine, Sweden and Croatia.
World and European champions Spain secured top spot in Group I with a 2-0 win at home to Georgia thanks to goals from Alvaro Negredo and Juan Mata, finishing three points ahead of the French who beat Finland 3-0.
Bosnians will be celebrating long into the night after reaching their first major tournament since declaring independence in 1992, after Vedad Ibisevic’s 68th-minute winner earned a 1-0 victory in Lithuania. Greece, who were behind Bosnia on goal difference, could not do enough to stop a Bosnian party.