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Germany, Belgium, Switzerland reach World Cup

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STEVE DOUGLAS | October 12, 2013 07:48 AM EST | AP


Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Colombia qualified for next year's World Cup on Friday night, while England and Russia won and moved into position to clinch next week.

Germany (8-0-1) defeated Ireland 3-0 at Cologne on goals by Sami Khedira, Andre Schuerrle and Mesut Ozil to guarantee first place in Group C and reach soccer's biggest tournament for the 16th straight time.

"The team showed from the first minute that we wanted to have everything sorted out," Germany captain Philipp Lahm said.

Belgium (8-0-1) earned its first berth since 2002, winning 2-0 at Croatia on a pair of goals by Romelu Lukaku to ensure first place in Group A.

"It's a party in Belgium. What more can you ask?" Belgium coach Marc Wilmots said after the match in Zagreb.

Switzerland (6-0-3) clinched Group E with a 2-1 victory at Albania on second-half goals by Xherdan Shaqiri and Michael Lang.

"How happy am I on a scale 1-10?" Swiss tennis great Roger Federer tweeted. "About a 25."

In South America, Colombia (8-4-3) trailed by three goals but rallied for a 3-3 draw at home against Chile to earn its first berth since 1998. Teofilo Gutierrez scored in the 69th and Radamel Falcao converted penalty kicks in the 75th and 84th minutes. Ecuador had built its lead on Arturo Vidal's penalty kicks and a pair of goals by Alexis Sanchez.

Fourteen of the 32 spots at next year's tournament in Brazil are set. The United States, Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Iran, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and South Korea already qualified, and Brazil gets an automatic berth as host.

In North and Central America and the Caribbean, third-place Honduras (4-3-2) won 1-0 at home against Costa Rica (4-2-3) on Jerry Bengtson's 65th-minute goal and ensured itself of no worse than fourth and a playoff against Oceania champion New Zealand. The top three finishers gain automatic berths.

Raul Jimenez scored on a spectacular 16-yard bicycle kick in the 85th minute — four minutes after Mexico had allowed Luis Tejada's tying goal — and El Tri (2-2-5) opened a three-point lead over Panama (1-3-5) for fourth with a 2-1 victory at Azteca Stadium. Mexico closes at Costa Rica on Tuesday night, when Panama hosts the U.S. and Honduras is at Jamaica.

Already assured of its seventh straight appearance, the United States (6-2-1) clinched first place for the third consecutive cycle by beating visiting Jamaica 2-0 on second-half goals by Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore.

In South America, first-place Argentina (9-1-5) beat eliminated Peru 3-1 and has 32 points, five ahead of Colombia. Ecuador (7-4-4) and Chile (8-6-1) are next with 25 points each, three in front of Uruguay (6-5-4). The top four qualify and the fifth-place team faces Jordan in a playoff next month for another berth.

The nine European group winners qualify, and eight of nine second-place teams advance to playoffs, which will include Croatia and Sweden.

England (5-0-4) maintained its Group H lead, beating Montenegro 4-1 at Wembley on second-half goals by Wayne Rooney, Andros Townsend and Daniel Sturridge plus an own goal by Branko Boskovic on a mis-hit clearance attempt. England would clinch its fifth straight berth by beating visiting Poland on Tuesday.

Russia (7-2) won 4-0 at Luxembourg as Aleksandr Samedov, Viktor Faizulin, Denis Glushakov and Alexander Kerzhakov scored and would win Group F with a tie Tuesday at Azerbaijan. Portugal (5-1-3) allowed Eden Ben Basat's 85th-minute goal in a 1-1 tie against visiting Israel and trails by three points but is assured at least second place.

Bosnia-Herzegovina (7-1-1) defeating visiting Liechtenstein 4-1 as Edin Dzeko scored twice and Zvjezdan Misimovic and Vedad Ibisevic had one goal each, putting itself in position to clinch Tuesday with a win at Lithuania. Greece also has 22 points but with a vastly inferior goal difference after beating visiting Slovakia on Martin Skrtel's own goal in the 44th minute.

Defending champion Spain (5-0-2) beat Belarus 2-1 on second-half goals by Xavi Hernandez and Alvaro Negredo and opened a three-point lead in Group I over idle France (4-1-2). Spain closes at home Tuesday against Georgia.

Robin van Persie scored three goals as the Netherlands routed Hungary 4-1. He became the Dutch career leader with 41 international goals, one more than Patrick Kluivert.

Sweden clinched a berth in the playoffs, ensuring second place in Group C by beating visiting Austria 2-1 on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's 86th-minute goal.