Iceland make history by beating Kosovo and reaching World Cup for first time

 
Ross McLean
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Iceland were the smallest nation ever to qualify for a major tournament when they reached Euro 2016 (Source: Getty)

Continental minnows Iceland followed their exploits at the European Championship by qualifying for their first ever World Cup thanks to a 2-0 win over Kosovo in Reykjavik.

The spade work was done on Friday evening when Iceland recorded an impressive 3-0 victory in Turkey but goals from Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson and Johann Berg Gudmundsson of Burnley secured top spot in Group I.

Iceland were the smallest nation to qualify for a major tournament when they reached Euro 2016, proceeding to make the quarter-finals after conquering England, and they will now take their place in the main draw for the finals on 1 December.

Former Leicester striker Andrej Kramaric, who now plays for Hoffenheim, netted twice as Croatia overcame Ukraine 2-0 in their winner-takes-all showdown to surge into the play-offs.

With maximum points guaranteeing the victors a play-off slot, Croatia held their nerve as two second-half goals from Kramaric in Zlatko Dalic's first game in charge saw them take second spot in Group I.

In the dead-rubber tussle in that group, Finland and Turkey played out a 2-2 draw in Turku.

Elsewhere in Europe, Spain recorded their ninth win from 10 qualifying matches following a narrow 1-0 victory over Israel in Jerusalem courtesy of Asier Illarramendi’s 25-yard half-volley.

Spain finished the campaign top of Group G, five points clear of second-placed Italy, who last night rounded off their own qualification process with a 1-0 triumph in Albania.

Inter midfielder Antonio Candreva scored the only goal of the game and Giampiero Ventura’s men will be seeded in the draw for the play-offs, which is set to take place on 17 October.

Macedonia beat Liechtenstein 4-0 in the other game in Group G. Liechtenstein ended the campaign pointless and with a goal difference of minus 38.

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