Goals from Mario Mandzukic and Darijo Srna saw 10-man Croatia return to the FIFA World Cup with a 2-0 play-off win over Iceland in Zagreb.
Croatia – who failed to qualify for the 2010 showpiece – chose the perfect occasion to snap a home winless run that stretched back nearly eight months on Tuesday, as coach Niko Kovac – taking charge of just his second match – saw his side step up to reach next year's finals in Brazil.
After a goalless draw in Friday's first leg in Reykjavik, Croatia claimed the ascendancy when Mandzukic produced a composed back-post finish in the 27th minute.
The striker was given a straight red card before the break though, for a crude challenge on Johann Gudmundsson, as Iceland entered half-time with hope.
However, those dreams were dashed just two minutes after the resumption as Srna's first-time strike from just inside the penalty area beat Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson from an acute angle.
Iceland, who were hoping to become the nation with the smallest population ever to reach a FIFA World Cup, tired after the second goal and they were only kept in the game by Halldorsson, as their stunning run through qualification came to an end.
Both sides made two changes, as Ivica Olic and Mateo Kovacic came in for Croatia, while for the visitors, Birkir Saevarsson and Eidur Gudjohnsen replaced the suspended Olafur Skulason and the injured Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.
Kovacic blasted over from the edge of the area in the first minute, and although Iceland had the ball in the back of the net, Alfred Finnbogason was flagged for offside well before finishing.
A Luka Modric effort – which deflected wide – began a sustained spell of pressure from the hosts, as they had penalty claims for handball against Ari Skulason denied and Srna forced Halldorsson into an excellent save from a free-kick.
Mandzukic then gave Croatia the lead, as Ivan Rakitic's ball in from the left was flicked towards goal by Ivan Perisic, with the Bayern Munich forward well placed to stab in from close range.
Olic then wasted a free header, nodding Srna's cross over the crossbar, before Halldorsson had to be alert to keep out an effort that deflected off Skulason and was creeping into the bottom corner.
Mandzukic's red card threatened to turn the match on its head, but Srna eased those fears with his goal just after half-time, as he benefited from a mazy Kovacic run before thrashing an effort home.
Kovacic then embarked on another excellent run but saw his effort saved by the outstretched foot of Halldorsson, before Olic saw his volley from a corner smack the underside of the crossbar.
Perisic was the next to be thwarted by the Iceland goalkeeper when presented with a one-on-one opportunity.
Halldorsson was on top form, and he came to the rescue again to deny Daniel Pranjic with 15 minutes to go, but two goals were enough as Croatia sealed their place in Brazil.
|17||M. Mandžukić||27' 38'|
|Coach: N. Kovač|
for M. Kovačić 75'
for I. Olić 81'
for L. Modrić 90'
|Gutierrez, Taylor released by Newcastle|
|Figo calls on re-elected Blatter to resign after ´dark day´ for football|
|Szczesny blasts father over ´idiotic´ comments|
|Blatter vows to leave ´strong´ FIFA|
|Blatter re-elected as FIFA president|
|BREAKING NEWS: FIFA elections set for second round of voting|
|Atsu wings in for Bournemouth campaign|
|Klopp: Pokal final not about me|
|Clement says Real goodbyes|
|Inter v Empoli: Icardi looking for final flourish|
|BREAKING NEWS: Blatter - I will fix FIFA|
|Northern Ireland v Qatar: O´Neill keen to prepare for Romania test|
|Palestine drop proposal for Israel suspension|
|Suarez will only get better, warns Iniesta|
|Martinez keen to recruit quickly|
|Monk keen to build on successful Swansea campaign|
|Fit-again Suarez set to aid Barca´s treble quest|
|Anonymous ´bomb´ threat received at FIFA Congress|
|Qatar organisers insist World Cup bid met ´highest ethical standards´|
|Wilkinson and Sorensen leave Stoke|
|Blatter: You can´t ask everyone to behave ethically just like that|
|Van Bronckhorst positive about Feyenoord future|
|Australian police to look into FFA-Warner dealings|
|Dardai signs Hertha deal|
|Protester interrupts FIFA Congress|
|Spurs complete Wimmer signing|
|Warner questions charges following release|
|Mexico v Guatemala: Herrera´s men kick off Copa preparations|
|New Zealand no longer supporting Blatter|
|´Post-World Cup trauma´ affected Mertesacker|
|Racing Club 0 Guarani 0 (0-1 agg): Draw sees Paraguayans through|
|Hamburg shocked by Karlsruher attack - Labbadia|
|Serie A Preview: Napoli, Lazio eye Champions League|
|Hodgson will not overstay England welcome|
|Scholes: United must keep Di Maria|
|Leyton Orient appoint Hendon|
|Benteke has a buy-out clause - Sherwood|
|US Soccer will support Prince Ali in FIFA election|
|Dynamo disappointed with officials after City friendly abandoned|
|Calls for Suarez appeal gather momentum|
|Eredvisie Review: Vitesse denied by late Uth goal, NAC Breda boost survival hopes|
|Rangers 1 Motherwell 3: McCall´s men facing uphill struggle|
|Hamburg 1 Karlsruher 1: Bundesliga side escape with draw|
|Blatter vows to lead FIFA clear of trouble as corruption scandal rolls on|
|Bundesliga: Bayern Munich season review - League crown not enough to signal successful campaign|
|Genoa forced to wait for UEFA licence|
|Injured Cardozo out of Paraguay squad|
|CONCACAF provisionally dismisses Webb and Li|
|Klopp: Career highlights of a charismatic coach|
|Verona v Juventus: Ogbonna seeks strong Champions League warm-up|
|FA charges Demetriou over betting breaches|
|Atalanta v Milan: Inzaghi faces last chance to prove worth|
|King joins Bournemouth as QPR rebuild begins|
|Plymouth part ways with Sheridan|
|Hernandez banned for three matches|
|Chelsea star Fabregas has nose surgery|
|Blatter: More bad news may follow|
|Galliani hopeful over Ancelotti deal|
|Frontzeck to continue as Hannover coach|
|Tremmel released as Tate waves goodbye to Swansea|
|Arsenal v Aston Villa: Sherwood out to upset holders|
|UEFA open to boycott of World Cup - Platini|
|Porto activate release clause for Casemiro|
|Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona: Catalans seeking second leg of treble|
|Auxerre v Paris Saint-Germain: History beckons for Ligue 1 champions|
|Cole confirms West Ham departure|
|UEFA elect not to boycott FIFA Congress|
|Borussia Dortmund v Wolfsburg: Klopp aiming for triumphant farewell|
|Flamini hails Coquelin impact at Arsenal|
|South Africa deny wrongdoing in World Cup bid|
|Benitez confirms Napoli exit|
|McShane among six released by Hull|
|Cerci committed to Milan|
|West Ham expect Collins to return for pre-season|
|Real deny Pogba bid|
|Important to keep Chelsea squad together - Mourinho|
|Alonso: Gerrard was magic|
|Pochettino silent on Ings speculation|
|Visa threatens to ´reassess´ sponsorship amid FIFA scandal|
|Blatter skips FIFA Medical Conference|
|MLS Preview: Revs not out for revenge against Galaxy|
|MLS Review: Sounders go top in West, Timbers and Galaxy win|
|AFC stands by Blatter|
|Matheus ´alright´ after collapse - Markevych|
|Copa Libertadores Review: River, Inter through to semis|
|Signing Toni a ´long shot´ for Adelaide|
|Ramsey good enough for Barca - Coleman|
|Bacuna pushing for Benteke stay|
|Evans stunner settles City friendly in Toronto|
|Banega: Emery a great coach|
|Emery tight-lipped on Sevilla future|
|Argentina finalise Copa America squad|
|Nike issues statement following arrest of FIFA officials|