— Switzerland and Slovakia earned Europe's final two automatic berths for next year's World Cup on Wednesday night, while Argentina tried to beat out Uruguay and Ecuador for South America's last certain spot in the 32-nation field.
Costa Rica played at the United States, which clinched its sixth straight berth last weekend, and the Ticos hoped to stay ahead of Honduras and gain the final automatic place from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Portugal, Greece, Slovenia and Ukraine finished second in their groups and joined Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Ireland and Russia in the European playoffs. They will be drawn into four pairs on Monday, and the winners of home-and-home, total-goals matches on Nov. 14 and 18 will qualify for next year's 32-nation field.
By the end of Wednesday, 23 of the 32 nations will have been determined for next year's tournament in South Africa.
In addition to the U.S., Mexico had ensured a berth in CONCACAF, while Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Serbia and Spain had clinched automatic berths in Europe. Brazil, Chile and Paraguay had earned berths from South America, and Australia, Japan, North Korea and South Korea won Asia's spots. Ghana and Ivory Coast joined host South Africa, which qualified automatically as host.
Defending champion Maria Kirilenko of Russia advanced to the Korea Open quarterfinals on Thursday by beating Francesca Schiavone, who retired with an injury early in the second set.
Kirilenko was leading the third-seeded Schiavone 6-1, 1-2 in the second round when the Italian, who had taken a medical time-out in the first set with an apparent right thigh injury, retired.
Kirilenko will next play seventh-seeded Vera Dushevina of Russia, who beat Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 7-5, 6-1.
Top-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia also advanced, defeating Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa 6-1, 6-1.
Hantuchova, who did not face a break point, will next face Kimiko Date Krumm of Japan, who saved a match point before eliminating fifth-seeded Alisa Kleybanova of Russia 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.