Ukraine cruised to victory in Andorra to reach the European Zone play-offs next month at the expense of Croatia, who eked out a last-gasp win in Kazakhstan, but will nevertheless watch the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ from back home.
Alexei Mikhailichenko's side kicked off their final qualifier one point above Slaven Bilic's team - and six behind Group 6 winners England - and they made sure of their own destiny by running out 6-0 in Andorra La Vella. Andrei Shevcheko, Oleg Gusev and an Ildefons Lima own goal had the visitors comfortably in command, before Yaroslav Rakitskyy, Yevgen Seleznov and Andriy Yarmolenko amplified the score in the last ten minutes.
Former AC Milan and Chelsea striker Shevchenko gave the visitors the lead after 22 minutes, rifling home as the ball bobbled around in the area, but it was the one piece of quality in a poor opening spell. Ukraine always looked in control of the contest against the group's bottom side, but some sloppy play almost cost them dearly.
Goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov spilled a tame shot from Marc Bernaus, but scrambled back just in time to stop the ball crossing the line. In the second half, Ukraine looked far more secure at the back against an Andorra side who offered plenty of fight if little else.
Andorra did, however, create their best chance of the game when Genis Garcia had a point-blank header saved well by Pyatov in the visiting goal. Ukraine responded, with Gusev doubling their lead on the hour mark, and the resistance from Andorra began to wane when Khacherdi added another nine minutes later.
The visitors took full advantage with Rakitskyy, Seleznov and Yarmolenko all rattling in strikes during a frenetic three-minute spell as the floodgates opened. And the final whistle could not come quick enough for the 800 fans who had turned up to watch the principality in action. Ukraine finish the qualifying campaign with six wins from ten matches, while hapless Andorra failed to pick up a single point, conceding 39 goals.
Thin win for Croatia
The victory maintained their one-point advantage in the group over Croatia, who were 2-1 winners in Kazakhstan.
Croatia dominated possession in Astana, but were repeatedly frustrated by Kazakhstan goalkeeper Alexandr Mokin. However, deep into injury time, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nico Kranjcar snatched them three points, which nevertheless proved fruitless.
*FIFA.com will be streaming the European play-off draw directly from the Home of FIFA in Zurich on Monday at 14:00 CET.