Iceland's scorer Gylfi Sigurdsson takes a shot at Kosovo's goal during the World Cup qualifying match in Reykjavik
Iceland's scorer Gylfi Sigurdsson takes a shot at Kosovo's goal during the World Cup qualifying match in Reykjavik Brynjar Gunnasrson

Iceland keeps its hot run going qualifying for World Cup finals

LESS than 18 months after sensationally knocking England out of Euro 2016, Iceland qualified for the World Cup for the first time on Monday following a 2-0 win over Kosovo.

Needing victory to guarantee top spot in European qualifying Group I, goals from Everton star Gylfi Sigurdsson and Johann Gudmundsson ensured Iceland would be on the plane to Russia 2018.

It was only two years ago that Iceland qualified for a major finals for the first time, taking advantage of a Euro 2016 tournament expanded to 24 teams, but nonetheless knocking out the Netherlands in qualifying.

From there the team from the tiny island of just 330,000 people stunned Europe by not only negotiating their group but also upsetting England in the last 16, before going out to hosts France in the quarter-finals.

Now, the World Cup in Russia will be graced by the popular northern Europeans and their colourful fans who started a clapping trend at the Euros that is sure to make its mark next year.

Meanwhile, Aleksandar Prijovic scored after coming on as a second-half substitute to steer Serbia to a 1-0 win over Georgia and secure a place at next year's finals.

Prijovic struck the winner on 74 minutes in Belgrade as Serbia finished top of European qualifying Group D, with the Republic of Ireland heading to the play-offs after a 1-0 victory over Wales in Cardiff.

James McClean's crisp second-half strike earned Ireland its win.

The West Bromwich Albion winger's goal moved Ireland above Wales into second place in Group D below Serbia, meaning Martin O'Neill's men will be one of the eight teams in the European play-off draw on October 17.

Across Europe Antonio Candreva lifted Italy to a 1-0 win over Albania assuring the Azzurri are top seeds for November's play-offs.

Gian Piero Ventura's side were already through to next month's playoffs, but needed a win in Shkoder to be guaranteed the status of top seeds in the draw on October 17.

News Corp Australia


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