Belgium, Switzerland and Germany booked FIFA World Cup berths with a game to spare but the automatic qualifying places in four of Europe's nine groups will go down to the wire.
The Netherlands and Italy became the first European teams to get to next summer's finals last month and victories on Friday for Belgium, Switzerland and Germany ensured they joined them. But there is still plenty to play for when qualification concludes on Tuesday, as four group winers and the eight best runners-up destined for the play-offs will be finalised.
Belgium needed a point against second-placed Croatia to secure top spot in Group A but a pair of first-half Romelu Lukaku strikes set them on course for all three in Zagreb, rubber-stamping a first major championship appearance since 2002. Switzerland won 2-1 in Albania to clinch Group C while Germany confirmed their ticket to a 23rd successive final tournament with a commanding 3-0 home triumph over the Republic of Ireland.
Germany, Switzerland and Belgium are among seven sides still unbeaten in qualifying, but it was so nearly six as a Nicklas Bendtner-inspired Denmark led Italy 2-1 before Alberto Aquilani's last-gasp equaliser. Holders Spain are also yet to lose and a 2-1 success over Belarus leaves them requiring a point against Georgia to seal progress.
England, impressive 4-1 winners against Montenegro, could finish the campaign unbeaten and still be ousted atop Group H as Ukraine breathe down their necks – only victory over Poland would guarantee qualification. At least Roy Hodgson's men control their own destiny, likewise Russia (needing a point) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (three), who go into Tuesday's matches knowing a trip to Brazil is theirs for the taking.
The undefeated Netherlands, of course, are already there but that did not stop them winning 8-1 against a Hungary team that began the day second in Group D. Robin van Persie's second international hat-trick took him to 41 goals, surpassing Patrick Kluivert's Oranje record. It was a less happy landmark occasion for Michael Mifsud, who marked his 100th cap with a 38th goal but could not prevent Malta losing 4-1 to the Czech Republic.
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