PICTURES

Football: Germany, Belgium, Switzerland reach World Cup

Albania's Ergys Kace (left) vies for the ball with Switzerland's Admir Mehmeti during the Fifa 2014 World Cup qualifying football match between Albania and Switzerland on Oct 11, 2013 in Tirana. Switzerland beat Albania 2-1. -- PHOTO: AFP
Albania's Ergys Kace (left) vies for the ball with Switzerland's Admir Mehmeti during the Fifa 2014 World Cup qualifying football match between Albania and Switzerland on Oct 11, 2013 in Tirana. Switzerland beat Albania 2-1. -- PHOTO: AFP
Switzerland's German head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld (left) congratulates Switzerland's defender Michael Lang after winning the Fifa 2014 World Cup qualifying football match between Albania and Switzerland on Oct 11, 2013 in Tirana. Switzerland beat Alban
Switzerland's German head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld (left) congratulates Switzerland's defender Michael Lang after winning the Fifa 2014 World Cup qualifying football match between Albania and Switzerland on Oct 11, 2013 in Tirana. Switzerland beat Albania 2-1. -- PHOTO: AFP
Albania’s Lorik Cana (right)  fights for the ball with Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri during their World Cup Group E qualifier in Tirana, Albania, on Oct 11, 2013. Switzerland beat Albania 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Albania’s Lorik Cana (right)  fights for the ball with Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri during their World Cup Group E qualifier in Tirana, Albania, on Oct 11, 2013. Switzerland beat Albania 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Albania’s Lorik Cana (right)  fights for the ball with Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri during their World Cup Group E qualifier in Tirana, Albania, on Oct 11, 2013. Switzerland beat Albania 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Albania’s Lorik Cana (right)  fights for the ball with Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri during their World Cup Group E qualifier in Tirana, Albania, on Oct 11, 2013. Switzerland beat Albania 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Albania’s Ergys Kace fights for the ball with Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri (top) during their World Cup Group E qualifier soccer match in Tirana, Albania, on Oct 11, 2013. Switzerland beat Albania 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Albania’s Ergys Kace fights for the ball with Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri (top) during their World Cup Group E qualifier soccer match in Tirana, Albania, on Oct 11, 2013. Switzerland beat Albania 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Switzerland's Admir Mehmeti (left), Gokhan Inler (centre) and Michael Lang (right) celebrate after scoring their second goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifying football match between Albania and Switzerland on Oct 11, 2013 in Tirana. -- PHOTO:
Switzerland's Admir Mehmeti (left), Gokhan Inler (centre) and Michael Lang (right) celebrate after scoring their second goal during the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifying football match between Albania and Switzerland on Oct 11, 2013 in Tirana. -- PHOTO: AFP
Switzerland's Admir Mehmeti (left), Gokhan Inler (centre) and Michael Lang celebrate after scoring their second goal during the Fifa 2014 World Cup qualifying football match between Albania and Switzerland on Oct 11, 2013 in Tirana. Switzerland beat
Switzerland's Admir Mehmeti (left), Gokhan Inler (centre) and Michael Lang celebrate after scoring their second goal during the Fifa 2014 World Cup qualifying football match between Albania and Switzerland on Oct 11, 2013 in Tirana. Switzerland beat Albania 2-1.-- PHOTO: AFP
Belgium's Eden Hazard (left) is challenged by Croatia's Mateo Kovacic during their group A World Cup qualifying soccer match in Zagreb on Oct 11, 2013. Belgium beat Croatia 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Belgium's Eden Hazard (left) is challenged by Croatia's Mateo Kovacic during their group A World Cup qualifying soccer match in Zagreb on Oct 11, 2013. Belgium beat Croatia 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku (left) is challenged by Croatia's Vedran Corluka  during their group A World Cup qualifying soccer match in Zagreb, on Oct 11, 2013. Belgium beat Croatia 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku (left) is challenged by Croatia's Vedran Corluka  during their group A World Cup qualifying soccer match in Zagreb, on Oct 11, 2013. Belgium beat Croatia 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Belgium's coach Marc Wilmots celebrates his team's 2-1 victory over Croatia during the World Cup 2014 qualifying football match at Maksimir stadium, in Zagreb, on Oct 11, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Belgium's coach Marc Wilmots celebrates his team's 2-1 victory over Croatia during the World Cup 2014 qualifying football match at Maksimir stadium, in Zagreb, on Oct 11, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring the opening goal against Croatia during their group A World Cup qualifying soccer match in Zagreb on Oct 11, 2013. Belgium beat Croatia 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring the opening goal against Croatia during their group A World Cup qualifying soccer match in Zagreb on Oct 11, 2013. Belgium beat Croatia 2-1. -- PHOTO: AP
Belgium players celebrate their 2-1 victory over Croatia at the end of their group A World Cup qualifying soccer match in Zagreb, on Oct 11, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Belgium players celebrate their 2-1 victory over Croatia at the end of their group A World Cup qualifying soccer match in Zagreb, on Oct 11, 2013. -- PHOTO: AP
Germany's player Mesut Oezil celebrates his goal against Ireland during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Cologne on Oct 11, 2013. Germany beat Ireland 3-0. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Germany's player Mesut Oezil celebrates his goal against Ireland during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Cologne on Oct 11, 2013. Germany beat Ireland 3-0. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Ireland´s goalkeeper David Forde (right) and German midfielder Mesut Oezil vie for the ball during the Fifa 2014 World Cup Group C qualifying football match between Germany vs Ireland in Cologne, western Germany, on Oct 11, 2013. Germany beat Irelan
Ireland´s goalkeeper David Forde (right) and German midfielder Mesut Oezil vie for the ball during the Fifa 2014 World Cup Group C qualifying football match between Germany vs Ireland in Cologne, western Germany, on Oct 11, 2013. Germany beat Ireland 3-0. -- PHOTO: AFP
German midfielder Mario Goetze plays the ball during the Fifa 2014 World Cup Group C qualifying football match between Germany and Ireland in Cologne, western Germany, on Oct 11, 2013. Germany beat Ireland 3-0. -- PHOTO: AFP
German midfielder Mario Goetze plays the ball during the Fifa 2014 World Cup Group C qualifying football match between Germany and Ireland in Cologne, western Germany, on Oct 11, 2013. Germany beat Ireland 3-0. -- PHOTO: AFP
German midfielder Max Kruse (left) and Ireland's striker Kevin Doyle vie for the ball during their Fifa 2014 World Cup Group C qualifying football match in Cologne, western Germany on Oct 11, 2013. Germany beat Ireland 3-0. -- PHOTO: AFP
German midfielder Max Kruse (left) and Ireland's striker Kevin Doyle vie for the ball during their Fifa 2014 World Cup Group C qualifying football match in Cologne, western Germany on Oct 11, 2013. Germany beat Ireland 3-0. -- PHOTO: AFP
(From left) Germany's Jerome Boateng, Per Mertesacker and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer celebate after winning the 2014 World Cup Group C qualifying soccer match against Ireland in Cologne, Germany, on Oct 11, 2013. Germany beat Ireland 3-0. -- PHOTO: AP
(From left) Germany's Jerome Boateng, Per Mertesacker and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer celebate after winning the 2014 World Cup Group C qualifying soccer match against Ireland in Cologne, Germany, on Oct 11, 2013. Germany beat Ireland 3-0. -- PHOTO: AP
Germany's Andre Schuerrle celebrates a goal against Ireland during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Cologne on Oct 11, 2013. Three-time champions Germany, Belgium and Switzerland reached the World Cup finals on Friday as England,
Germany's Andre Schuerrle celebrates a goal against Ireland during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Cologne on Oct 11, 2013. Three-time champions Germany, Belgium and Switzerland reached the World Cup finals on Friday as England, Russia and Bosnia-Herzegovina edged closer to Brazil. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - Three-time champions Germany, Belgium and Switzerland reached the World Cup finals on Friday as England, Russia and Bosnia-Herzegovina edged closer to Brazil.

Germany booked their place with a convincing 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in Cologne to move to 25 points in Group C.

Belgium beat Croatia 2-1 in Zagreb to top Group A and make the finals for the first time since 2002.

Switzerland, meanwhile, reached the finals for the third time after a 2-1 win over Albania in Tirana to assure them of top spot in Group E.

The three join Italy and Netherlands who had already made sure of qualification.

Goals by Real Madrid's Sami Khedira, Chelsea's Andre Schuerrle and Arsenal's Mesut Oezil confirmed Germany's place in Brazil.

Second-placed Sweden's 2-1 win at home to Austria left Germany five points clear ahead of their final qualifier against the Swedes in Stockholm on Tuesday.

"All in all, we've done well in qualifying. The team have done their duty with eight wins out of nine games," said Germany coach Joachim Loew.

On-loan Everton striker Romelu Lukaku scored the two first-half goals that took Belgium through.

Lukaku found the target in the 16th and 38th minutes with Niko Kranjcar hitting a late consolation for Croatia who must now hope to make the finals via the play-offs.

"Belgium can be very proud of this team. We are going to Brazil and will try and have a great tournament," said Belgium's Manchester United star Marouane Fellaini.

Second-half goals from Xherdan Shaqiri and Michael Lang gave Ottmar Hitzfeld's Switzerland victory in Tirana and an unassailable 21 points at the top of Group E.

It was a which left one famous Swiss fan over-joyed.

"Switzerland made it to the World Cup, how happy am I on a scale 1-10? About a 25. Great effort and congratulations," tweeted tennis ace Roger Federer.

Tottenham's Andros Townsend crowned his international debut with a fine goal as England beat Montenegro 4-1 to close in on an automatic place in Brazil.

Wayne Rooney broke the deadlock early in the second half and a calamitous own goal from Branko Boskovic doubled the hosts' lead, before Dejan Damjanovic replied for the visitors.

Townsend restored England's two-goal cushion with 11 minutes to play, however, driving home right-footed from 23m before an injury-time penalty from Daniel Sturridge completed the scoring.

England will approach their final game at home to Poland on Tuesday needing another win to secure a berth in Brazil.

They lead Group H by a point from Ukraine, who beat Poland 1-0 in Kharkiv.

Russia, coached by Fabio Capello, cruised to a 4-0 win in Luxembourg to open a four-point lead over Portugal in Group F.

Alexander Samedov, Viktor Faizukin, Denis Glushakov and Alexander Kerzhakov all scored to put Russia on 21 points.

Second-placed Portugal take on Israel later on Friday.

Bosnia-Herzegovina, who have never made a major finals, saw off whipping boys Liechtenstein 4-1 with Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko scoring twice.

They lead Group G on goal difference from Greece who edged Slovakia 1-0.

The Netherlands swamped Hungary 8-1 in Amsterdam with Robin van Persie grabbing a hat-trick.

The Dutch have 25 points from nine games.

Denmark's play-off hopes suffered a blow after a late equaliser by Alberto Aquilani helped Italy secure a 2-2 draw in Copenhagen that maintained their unbeaten record in Group B.

Italy, who qualified for Brazil with two games to spare, are on 21 points from nine games while Bulgaria, in second, and Denmark are both eight points adrift.

The Czech Republic sit in fourth, only one further point behind, meaning there is all to play for in the final round of qualifiers on Tuesday when Denmark host Malta and the Czechs visit Bulgaria.

Defending champions Spain are locked on 14 points with France in Group I.

They face Belarus in Mallorca where a win combined with a draw against Georgia next Tuesday will be enough for Vicente del Bosque's men.

The nine group winners qualify for the finals while the eight best runners-up will play off for the remaining four spots.