Italy and Holland have qualified for the World Cup with two games to spare after securing victories on Tuesday night. Italy beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in an eventful night in Turin, which saw the visitors take the lead in the 19th minute and Mario Balotelli miss an open goal from three yards before eventually scoring the winner from the penalty spot and provoking Daniel Kolar into a last-minute red card offence. Giorgio Chiellini scored Italy's other goal with a header. "It's a great satisfaction," the Italy coach, Cesare Prandelli, said. "This is a very talented team which always manages to give its maximum. I saw a great Italy."
Holland's progress to Brazil was guaranteed after a 2-0 away win over Andorra. Robin van Persie scored both goals, to leave him two behind Patrick Kluivert's all-time Dutch scoring record of 40. But it was not an entirely straightforward victory, with the Andorrans frustrating the Dutch until the 49th minute, when Van Persie scored with a dipping shot from outside the area. "It was a good shot and a nice goal," he said, "but most important is it meant we were finally 1-0 up and could relax a little bit in our approach."
Germany's record is equal to Holland's and better than Italy's, with a 3-0 win over the Faroe Island's their seventh victory in eight unbeaten matches. Per Mertesacker opened the scoring from close range in the 23rd minute, and then in the final 20 minutes Thomas Müller won a penalty, converted by Mesut Ozil, before volleying in the third. They still require two points to be certain of qualification after Sweden beat Kazakhstan 1-0, with their next match at home to the Republic of Ireland on 11 October.
France's 527-minute goal drought came to an emphatic end as they scored four at home to Belarus to draw level with Spain – who have a game in hand – at the top of group I. The Belarussians led 1-0 at half-time and 2-1 after an hour – with Hugo Lloris at fault for both goals – only for Franck Ribéry to twice equalise, and further strikes from Samir Nasri and Paul Pogba completed the scoring. "Because of the importance of the match, I think there was a bit of tension in our game," their coach, Didier Deschamps, said. "The desire was so strong that it was a bit messy."
Switzerland need to win one of their two remaining matches to secure top spot in Group E, after Fabian Schaer's brace of headers – both from Gokhan Inler free-kicks – brought them a 2-0 win in Norway and extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches, including friendlies. Switzerland enjoy a five-point lead at the top of the group, with three points separating the next four teams, led by Iceland.
Russia moved to the top of Group F with a 3-1 home win over Israel, and now know that victory in their final two matches – away at the group's weakest teams, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg, will bring them qualification and force Portugal into the play-offs.