France and Portugal both won on Tuesday to secure qualification for next year’s World Cup – but Netherlands will not be present at Russia 2018 after missing out on the play-offs.
Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud scored the goals as a nervy France defeated Belarus 2-1 in Paris to make sure of top spot in Group A.
Sweden finished second in the table despite losing 2-0 to the Netherlands, who needed to score at least seven goals and win by six to secure a top-two spot.
They managed to find the net only twice in Amsterdam, both from Arjen Robben in the first half, meaning they will miss a World Cup for the first time since 2002.
Portugal and Switzerland met in Lisbon to decide who would triumph in Group B. Cristiano Ronaldo’s European champions ran out 2-0 winners, meaning they finish on top courtesy of their superior goal difference.
Defeat means the Swiss will have to negotiate a two-legged play-off staged in November to qualify, though they will be seeded when the draw is made in Zurich on October 17.
Switzerland will, therefore, avoid coming up against fellow seeds Croatia, Denmark and Italy, with Northern Ireland, Sweden, Republic of Ireland and Greece – who finished second in Group H – the other nations involved.
With Greece winning 4-0 at home to Gilbraltar to move to 19 points, Slovakia are the unfortunate second-placed nation to miss out on a play-off berth.
As well as France and Portugal, Belgium, England, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Serbia and Spain all clinched automatic qualification for the tournament by winning their respective groups.
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