Defending champions Germany clinched a place at next year’s World Cup in Russia with a 3-1 win in Northern Ireland on Thursday, while England beat Slovenia 1-0 to secure their berth.
Sebastian Rudy and Sandro Wagner struck brilliant first-half goals in Belfast before Joshua Kimmich added a late third as Joachim Loew’s team made it nine wins out of nine in European qualifying Group C.
The four-time world champions also maintained their proud unbeaten away record in World Cup qualifiers — a run spanning an incredible 47 matches dating back to 1934.
“We’re off to Russia, to tear it up! We want to successfully defend the World Cup title,” said Bayern Munich midfielder Rudy following his first international goal.
Northern Ireland, who grabbed a consolation through Josh Magennis, remain on track to claim a spot in next month’s play-offs as they attempt to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Harry Kane continued his stunning goalscoring form with a 94th-minute winner as an unimpressive England overcame Slovenia at Wembley.
Gareth Southgate’s side looked utterly bereft of ideas until skipper Kane converted Kyle Walker’s inviting cross to score his 14th goal in nine games for club and country.
It is the sixth time in succession England have qualified for the World Cup, but after making such heavy work of defeating Slovenia, they are unlikely to give the game’s super-powers many sleepless nights.
“It’s not a relief, I always thought we’d achieve the objective (of qualifying),” said Southgate.
“Tonight highlighted where we are.
“We know exactly where we need to improve. We do have players who can score goals. It is a work in progress and when I was given the job the aim was to qualify for the World Cup.”