Tuesday’s qualifiers saw a number of countries from Europe, South America and North America book their ticket for next year’s tournament
With the 2014 World Cup one step closer after Tuesday’s round of qualifiers across the globe, several more nations have secured qualification for next year’s showpiece in Brazil.
The hosts had already been joined by Asian representatives Japan, Australia, Iran and South Korea at an earlier stage and the first teams from Uefa, Concacaf and Conmebol have now wrapped up qualification, too.
Italy booked their place in next summer’s World Cup finals after recovering from going a goal down to beat Czech Republic 2-1 in Turin.
Former Lazio striker Libor Kozak opened the scoring after 20 minutes but their lead was overhauled within eight minutes of the second half. Defender Giorgio Chiellini restored parity by nodding home from a corner, before AC Milan hitman Mario Balotelli secured his country’s ticket to Brazil with a 54th-minute penalty in typically cool fashion.
Cesare Prandelli’s men will be joined in South America by the Netherlands, whose progression from Group D was ensured after a 2-0 victory over Andorra. Manchester United marksman Robin van Persie netted twice within 10 minutes after the interval to seal qualification for the Dutch, taking his international tally to 38 in 79 appearances.
Elsewhere, Argentina hammered Paraguay 5-2 to book their ticket for the World Cup from the South American qualifying section, with Barcelona star Lionel Messi netting twice from the spot to lead Alejandro Sabella’s men the way.
Furthermore, USA also secured a spot at the 2014 World Cup following a 2-0 win over rivals Mexico as Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan helped them to top spot in their section.
Costa Rica sealed qualification for Brazil as well, despite their 1-1 away draw against Jamaica. Panama’s 2-2 draw versus Honduras saw the Ticos through after all, though.
No teams from Africa have qualified as of yet, with the five play-off ties – including the likes of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt and Cameroon – scheduled to take place between 11-15 October and 15-19 November.
Oceanian representatives New Zealand will have to deal with the fourth-placed team from North, Central America and the Caribbean in order to make it to the World Cup finals.