Slovakia qualified for their first FIFA World Cup™ since gaining independence by battling through some dreadful conditions to win 1-0 in Poland. The visitors, looking to bounce back from Saturday's disappointing home defeat to closest challengers Slovenia - a match in which victory would have secured them a place in South Africa - went ahead early through a Seweryn Gancarczyk own goal, and then held on grimly.
Poland dominated for most of the contest but could not find a way past a Slovakia side who were without four first-team regulars through suspension. The only goal arrived just three minutes in when Gancarczyk sliced a cross past Jerzy Dudek, who was making his first appearance since 2006, and into his own net under little pressure.
From there on in it was a backs-to-the-wall display from Slovakia as heavy snow made flowing football a near impossibility in Chorzow. Poland coped with the conditions better, but were unable to find a way past visiting keeper Jan Mucha.
Midfielder Mariusz Lewandowski came close to an equaliser shortly after the half-hour mark, but his drive from the edge of the area came back off the bar. Ireneusz Jelen also threatened before half-time but somehow shot high over the bar from close range.
Mucha came into his own in a one-sided second half. First he blocked a Jelen drive with his chest, before excelling again late on to keep out a drive from Lewandowski.
Slovakia offered little as an attacking threat - Dudek's save from a Jan Kozak shot on the counter-attack was the best they could muster - but a stout defensive display was enough to see them advance, sparking wild scenes of celebration at the final whistle.
"I love these players," said coach Vladimir Weiss. "In these qualifiers we have played well and had a little bit of luck. Everybody made a contribution and we made the whole of Slovakia happy. This is a fantastic feeling."