England are through to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after beating Poland in a gripping final qualifier at Wembley.
Roy Hodgson’s side needed three points from the match to secure top spot in Group H and avoid a play-off after Ukraine hammered San Marino 8-0.
There were tense moments before Wayne Rooney broke the deadlock just before half-time, heading in a cross from Leighton Baines. A goal from Steven Gerrard sealed the victory in the 88th minute.
England manager Roy Hodgson said the result was a relief to him and assistant Ray Lewington.
He said: “That second goal took about ten years off both of us – and I need it more than Ray.
“I have great satisfaction. This was a very tough group with a lot of tough games. Ukraine, Poland, Montenegro have all shown themselves to be very good opponents.
“I am delighted for the players. We played some sensational football in the first half and in the second, when the Poles had not so much to lose, we dug in, worked hard to control them.”
On Twitter, Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the win, saying he was “proud” to see the side qualify.
Before the game, there was criticism after the Football Association (FA) doubled the normal allocation for away fans in response to security concerns prompted by a huge demand for tickets among Britain’s large Polish community.
Initially the Polish FA was given 8,000 tickets, but the FA sold another 10,000 to UK-based Poles, with an eventual crowd of 85,186 watching the game.
England join defending champions Spain, Germany, Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands in next year’s World Cup, which starts in June.
Ukraine face a two-leg play-off against one of France, Greece, Portugal, Iceland, Romania, Sweden, Denmark or Croatia.