Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard scores the second goal against Poland to secure England qualify for the World Cup in Brazil. [Reuters]

Roy Hodgson may well have been sitting nervously on the England bench with just 10 minutes remaining at Wembley on Tuesday night but after Steven Gerrard's goal the entire country was able to let out a huge sigh of relief.

England booked their place in Brazil thanks to a 2-0 win over Poland, while reigning champions Spain also finished top of their group after Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo and Chelsea's Juan Mata secured a 2-0 victory over Georgia.

"It may look practically routine, but it's important to remember how successful we've been at qualifying," said manager Vicente Del Bosque. "This is not an easy competition."

Russia also qualified for the World Cup despite drawing with Azerbaijan 1-1, while Bosnia and Herzegovina secured a hard fought 1-0 win over Lithuania to secure top spot in Group C on goal difference ahead of Greece.

While these countries were forced to wait until the final game of qualifying a number of European sides had already booked their spot in the competition. Italy finished top of Group B with six wins and four draws from their ten games and will be a major threat out in Brazil.

Wales may have finished with a 1-1 draw against Belgium thanks to a wonderful goal from Arsenal's Aarom Ramsey but the much fancied Belgians finished nine points clear in Group A and have an array of exciting attacking talent such as Chelsea trio Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.

Germany topped Group C and it seems we can expect plenty of excitement from Joachim Loew's side after they ended the campaign with a 5-3 victory over Sweden that saw Chelsea forward Andre Schurrle grab a hat-trick.

They will be joined by Holland who won nine and drew just one of their qualifiers as they scored a staggering 34 goals and conceded just five. With Manchester United's in-form striker Robin Van Persie leading the line they will be a major threat in South America.

Finally from Europe it is Switzerland who also remained unbeaten throughout their ten qualifying games, conceding just six goals and scoring 17.

With the nine group winners safely through, the attention will now turn to the play-offs which features eight runners up with Denmark missing out thanks to having the weakest record.

Those eight teams are Croatia, Sweden, Romania, Iceland, Portugal, Greece, Ukraine and France. Four of these sides will be seeded for the two legged play-offs which take place next month and the four winners will be heading to Brazil.

Outside of Europe a number of countries have already booked their place with Australia Iran, Japan and South Korea all qualifying, while in North and Central America it is Costa Rica, United States and Honduras who have safely navigated their way to Brazil.

In South America hosts Brazil will be joined by Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Chile, while in Africa not a single county has qualified as there is still one more round of qualification.

The final round of games in Africa sees the 10 group winners from the previous stage meet in five two-legged play-off meetings. The first legs saw Algeria beaten 3-2 at Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast beat Senegal 3-1, Ethiopia lose 2-1 at home to Nigeria, Tunisia and Cameroon play out a goalless draw and Ghana thrash Egypt 6-1.

That just leaves the remaining play-off games where Liverpool's Luis Suarez will look to continue his amazing run of form to help Uruguay get past Panama, while Mexico will have to overcome New Zealand to secure their route to Brazil.