England have now joined holders Spain and past champions Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2012 alongside co-hosts Poland and Ukraine. However, five automatic finals berths, including four for group winners, and the race for places in the play-off draw on Thursday will only be settled when the nine sections end on Tuesday.
The nine pool winners, plus the runners-up with the best record against the sides placed first, third, fourth and fifth in their pool qualify directly, with the other second-placed teams entering the play-offs. More details, including the procedure for breaking ties and determining the best runners-up, are in the official regulations.
Group winners Germany beat Turkey on Friday to allow Belgium to take second place by one point with victory against Kazakhstan. To ensure a play-off berth, Belgium, playing in Germany, must match or better Turkey's result against Azerbaijan. If they end level, Turkey have the superior head-to-head.
Russia's 1-0 win in Slovakia not only eliminated their opponents but left Dick Advocaat's side on the verge of the finals, two points ahead of the Republic of Ireland and three clear of Armenia, who cannot qualify automatically. On Tuesday Russia only need a point at home to Andorra to make sure of first place even if Ireland beat Armenia, that match in Dublin looking more a straight contest for a play-off. Even if Russia lose, they could still be best runners-up.
Estonia moved into second place in their bid for a first major qualification as they came from behind on Friday to win 2-1 in Northern Ireland, now eliminated along with Slovenia. Serbia were held 1-1 by Italy, already secure in top spot, but Estonia have now completed their fixtures so Serbia can still snatch the play-off position by winning in Slovenia.
France remain a point ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina following Friday victories, with the pair meeting in Paris to decide the group. Romania have now been eliminated so whoever misses out in the decider will be in the play-offs.
The Netherlands, already qualified as at least best runners-up before Friday, have now clinched first place with victory against Moldova. Sweden will finish second after defeating Finland and now prepare to welcome the Netherlands knowing a win would mean automatic qualification as best runners-up.
Greece's 2-0 win against Croatia in the meeting of the leading pair took the 2004 champions back to the top with a two-point lead. A draw in Georgia would ensure Greece first place regardless of Croatia's result against Latvia. However, Croatia still have the possiblity of finishing as best runners-up on goal difference with victory should Sweden fail to win, there is not a draw between Denmark and Portugal, and Russia do not lose to Andorra and finish second in their pool.
England qualified with a 2-2 draw in Montenegro, who guaranteed a first-ever play-off with that result as Switzerland lost in Wales.
Portugal and Denmark are level on points as they meet in Copenhagen on Tuesday. Denmark, ensured a top-two finish, must beat Portugal to win the group having lost away in Porto. Norway, three points adrift, face Cyprus with a hope of second place on goal difference ahead of Portugal should Denmark win, though they have a lot of ground to make up. If Sweden do not beat the Netherlands the best runners-up could well come from this section.
Spain were already assured of a place before their win in the Czech Republic left second position open. That place has been occupied for the time being by Scotland, following Saturday night's win in Liechtenstein. However, the Czech Republic, with a better head-to-head record, could still snatch a play-off berth by picking up more points in Lithuania on Tuesday than Craig Levein's charges do away to Spain.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.