Holland’s exodus from major international tournaments will stretch to the World Cup after their 2-0 success over Sweden at the Amsterdam Arena fell painfully short of their required margin of victory.
Requiring to triumph by a somewhat fanciful seven goals, Holland briefly flirted with the unthinkable as skipper and former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben netted a first-half double in what could prove his final match for his country.
Sweden maintained their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup after finishing as runners-up to Group A winners France, who beat Belarus 2-1 at Stade de France, and they will learn their fate on Tuesday when the play-off draw is made.
Holland, however, have now failed to reach successive major tournaments having missed out qualifying for last year’s European Championship, despite finishing third at the 2014 World Cup.
France sealed their passage to next year’s World Cup in Russia after overcoming Belarus in Paris following first-half strikes from Antoine Griezmann and Arsenal frontman Olivier Giroud. It is the first time since 2006 that France have qualified automatically for the World Cup.
Les Bleus will be joined in Russia by reigning European champions Portugal, who navigated their final qualification clash against Switzerland in Lisbon to poach top spot in Group B from their rivals.
A win or draw for Switzerland, who had won all of their previous nine group matches, would have seen them qualify automatically for the tournament, although a Johan Djourou own goal and Andre Silva strike handed Portugal victory.
In Group H, Greece confirmed their place in the play-offs with a 4-0 win over Gibraltar. Their win also ensured Slovakia, who finished second behind England in Group F, would be the one nation from the nine runners-up to miss out on the play-offs.
There was also a 4-0 win for already-qualified Belgium over Cyprus.
World governing body Fifa is expected to update their rankings on Monday, which will determine which teams will be seeded in the play-offs.
Two goals from Tim Cahill, meanwhile, propelled Australia to a final qualifying tie after they beat Syria 3-2 on aggregate.