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World Cup joy for Bosnia as fairytale ending comes true

updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 16, 2013
Bosnian football fans celebrated their team's heroics by partying in Sarajevo.
Bosnian football fans celebrated their team's heroics by partying in Sarajevo.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina reaches World Cup finals for first time in country's history
  • England makes it through following home victory over Poland
  • Spain and Russia seal places at next year's tournament
  • France, Portugal, Iceland all qualify for playoff stage

(CNN) -- Bosnia-Herzegovina made history Tuesday after qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in the nation's history.

Vedad Ibisevic's strike gave his country a 1-0 win over Lithuania in Kaunas to ensure his team will compete at next year's tournament in Brazil.

It was in 1995 that Bosnia played its first match as an independent nation following the break up of Yugoslavia.

Twice it has come close to reaching major tournaments, losing out to Portugal on both occasions in the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship playoffs.

"I congratulate these guys for their great work in the last four years, and it would have been real injustice if we had failed to win the group and qualify for the World Cup," coach Safet Susic told Bosnia media.

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The victory sparked wild scenes of jubilation in Sarajevo where fans celebrated with fireworks and chanting following the result.

Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko said: "I wish to send my regards to Brazil and say that we will show how mighty Bosnia is."

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Elsewhere, England booked its place in Brazil with an impressive 2-0 victory over Poland at Wembley.

Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard were both on target in an entertaining affair.

Already qualified for 2014 World Cup



Brazil (hosts)

Japan

Australia

Iran

South Korea

Italy

Holland

Argentina

Costa Rica

USA

Colombia

Belgium

Switzerland

Germany

Russia

Bosnia-Herzegovina

England

Spain





It means Ukraine will have to negotiate the playoffs with England able to relax -- much to the relief of manager Roy Hodgson.

"I'm greatly satisfied," Hodgson told ITV.

"It was a tough group, both Montenegro and Poland showed themselves to be great opponents both home and away.

"We played some sensational football in the first half and we dug in very well and controlled them in the second.

"We always said that if we could get to the last two games, we'd be stronger and have players coming back.

"We've found a winger in Andros Townsend who looks as though he's been playing there (international football) all his life. He's going to be under a lot of pressure now but he's a level headed young man and he'll deal with it.

"We've been working together for 18 months and the way we play has changed. We're getting better all the time and hopefully will get better still. The players really are a group and they trust each other."

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Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick was given a place in the starting line up in place of Frank Lampard and played a key role in his side's success.

"We did everything we wanted to in the first half. Second half, they came out and created chances straight away," he told the BBC.

"We stayed strong and saw it through. At 1-0, sometimes you get caught in between getting another goal and holding on.

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Sami Khedira gave Germany an early lead against the Republic of Ireland as they booked their passage to the 2014 World Cup finals. Sami Khedira gave Germany an early lead against the Republic of Ireland as they booked their passage to the 2014 World Cup finals.
German joy
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Mousa Dembele (right) is a key part of the Belgium side hoping to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Mousa Dembele (right) is a key part of the Belgium side hoping to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Belgium' s World Cup Red Devils
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"We set out to qualify, we are not getting over-excited. It is what we expected of ourselves, hopefully it is the shape of things to come.

"We have set standards, and at times we have not lived up to them. We are unbeaten throughout the campaign.

"The World Cup is still a long way off, with a lot of football to be played. The competition in midfield is tough."

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Spain topped Group I following a 2-0 win over Georgia thanks to goals from Alvaro Negredo and Juan Mata.

That result means France must now enter the playoffs despite its 3-0 win over Finland.

France will not be seeded for the playoffs and could face Ukraine, Greece, Croatia or Portugal.

Romania will also be in the mix after taking second place in Group D.

Romania saw off Estonia 2-0 and benefited from Turkey's home defeat by a Netherlands side which had already qualified.

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Meanwhile, Iceland booked its place in the playoffs following a 1-1 draw in Norway.

Kolbeinn Sigþórsson gave the visiting side the lead and although Norway did equalize, it could not prevent Iceland from finishing second in Group E.

Only Slovenia could have prevented Iceland from finishing second but it succumbed to a 1-0 defeat in Switzerland.

Russia qualified following a 1-1 draw in Azerbaijan meaning that Portugal's 3-0 win over Luxembourg was superfluous.

In the night's other games, Croatia was beaten 2-0 in Scotland, Belgium was held to a 1-1 draw by Wales and Germany edged out Sweden 5-3 in a thrilling contest.

In Africa, Ghana took a giant stride towards the World Cup following a crushing 6-1 win over Egypt in the first leg of its playoff tie.

Asamoah Gyan scored twice, while further strikes from Abdul Majeed Waris, Sulley Muntari, Christian Atsu and an own-goal sealed the win.

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