England booked their place at next summer's World Cup in Brazil with a 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley on Tuesday night.
The Three Lions had a host of chance in the first half before Wayne Rooney eventually opened the scoring just before the break, heading the ball past the otherwise excellent Wojciech Szczesny.
Roy Hodgson's charges endured a nervy second period as they failed to kill off the match, until captain Steven Gerrard burst forward, dinked the ball over Szczesny and put the tie beyond doubt.
Chris Smalling was given the nod to replace the suspended Kyle Walker in the England starting line-up, while Michael Carrick was preferred to Frank Lampard in midfield.
Poland, meanwhile, backed by a huge following of around 18,000 fans, made three changes to the side beaten by Ukraine on Friday night, with Szczesny replacing Artur Boruc in goal, while Piotr Celeban and Waldemar Sobota also came in.
The game started at a frantic pace, with the in-form Andros Townsend, rampaging up the right flank once more, stinging the palms of Szczesny. Danny Welbeck latched onto the rebound, but could only send his header wide of the post.
Poland were dangerous on the counterattack and Sobota should have done better when he was afforded too much space but fired wide of the near post, then England were given another let off when Robert Lewandowski raced clear but fired wide with only Joe Hart to beat.
There was no let up in the action as the tricky Townsend rattled the crossbar with a thumping left-footed strike, before Welbeck somehow dragged a shot wide from point-blank range when it seemed easier to score.
The Manchester United striker was presented with another chance 11 minutes before half-time when Gerrard played him in with a cushioned pass, but the 22-year-old failed to get the ball out of his feet and Szczesny came out to avert the danger.
It seemed it would be only a matter of time before the breakthrough would come and the opening goal duly arrived five minutes before the break, when Leighton Baines picked out Rooney with a pinpoint delivery and the striker rose unmarked to head home from six yards out, his seventh goal in six Group H appearances.
Poland made a bright start to the second half and Gary Cahill did well to get in the way of a goal-bound shot from Mateusz Klich, on as half-time substitute.
Cahill came close to a second England goal five minutes after the break when the busy Szczesny palmed away his downward header from a Gerrard corner, then Grzegorz Krychowiak almost put the ball into his own net when stretching to cut out Rooney's dangerous cross.
Lewandowski went one-on-one with Hart once again on the hour-mark, but the England keeper raced out and narrowed the angle to thwart the Borussia Dortmund striker.
Rooney almost had a second after 66 minutes only for Szczesny to tip away the England striker's long-range strike that was bound for the far corner, while Sturridge was also denied by the Arsenal keeper once more.
But just as the tension in Wembley was becoming unbearable, captain Gerrard struck the decisive blow that guaranteed the three points England needed to top the group, driving into the penalty area before neatly finishing past Szczesny to seal the Three Lions' place in Brazil next summer.
|10||W. Rooney||41' 80'|
|Coach: R. Hodgson|
for M. Carrick 71'
for D. Sturridge 82'
for A. Townsend 86'
|Lampard welcomes ´perfect´ NYCFC challenge|
|Shamrock Rovers 3 Progres Niederkorn 0: Waters at the double|
|Gerrard keen to emulate ´hero´ Beckham at Galaxy|
|UEFA Champions League Review: Red Imps make history, TNS breeze through|
|Ameobi extends Newcastle deal and heads for Cardiff|
|U.S. women celebrate World Cup victory with LA rally|
|Atletico agree Vietto deal|
|Silva appointed Olympiacos head coach|
|Presidential candidates unsure of Turan´s Barca switch|
|Toure keen to bounce back from ´disappointing´ campaign|
|El Salvador v Canada: Floro targets Gold Cup learning curve|
|Juve complete Zaza swoop|
|Costa Rica v Jamaica: Borges confident Wanchope´s men are ready|
|Marseille snare Sarr|
|Italy coach Conte to stand trial in match-fixing case|
|Castan keen to repay Roma´s faith|
|Rami thrilled to reunite with ´best coach´ Emery at Sevilla|
|Lusitans v West Ham: Tomkins seeks to silence minnows|
|Kagawa shines as Dortmund hit six in Japan|
|Alonso tips Gerrard for Galaxy glory|
|Firmino seeks self-improvement with Liverpool|
|Buffon bids farewell to Pirlo|
|Sterling named Europe´s ´most valuable´ young player|
|Casillas´ agent reveals Porto offer|
|Southampton bring in Martina|
|Dundee United accept Celtic´s Ciftci bid|
|McArthur pens new Palace deal|
|Bartomeu rules out Barca move for Pogba this year|
|Spurs have to be better now - Bentaleb|
|Milner expects central role|
|Micronesia thrashed again, this time 46-0|
|Marchisio: I cannot be Pirlo´s heir|
|Inter aiming for Champions League return - Icardi|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Brondby and Slovan to protect handsome leads|
|Bentaleb pens new long-term deal at Tottenham|
|Barca agree Turan deal|
|FIFA bans Mayne-Nicholls|
|United States v Honduras: Klinsmann demands improvement ahead of Gold Cup opener|
|CONCACAF institutes extensive reforms in wake of FIFA corruption scandal|
|Mauri completes Milan move|
|City sign Turkey striker|
|Women´s World Cup final draws huge US TV ratings|
|My first Chelsea team better than current crop - Drogba|
|Bertrand set for lay-off after knee surgery|
|New five-year Juve deal for Marchisio|
|Allegri extends Juve contract|
|Koeman reiterates Alderweireld interest|
|Valencia bag Bakkali|
|New York City FC complete Pirlo capture|
|Panama v Haiti: Collat ready to challenge the best of CONCACAF|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: Harrison eyes TNS progression|
|FIFA sanctions Yemen for fielding ineligible player|
|Toulouse rubbish Ben Yedder exit reports|
|Mourinho ´knows what he´s doing´ with Falcao signing|
|Watford shell out club-record fee for Capoue|
|Braafheid signs Lazio extension|
|Nani finalises Fenerbahce move|
|Liverpool confirm O´Driscoll appointment|
|Liverpool have to start better - Lucas|
|USA simply too good - Sasaki|
|Portland Timbers 1 San Jose Earthquakes 0: Jewsbury wins it in stoppage time|
|No move yet for Van Persie|
|Lloyd wins Golden Ball, Silver Boot awards|
|Mascherano: I never grabbed Banega|
|Dunga requested Brazil not appeal Neymar´s suspension|
|United States 5 Japan 2: Lloyd stars with hat-trick|
|Fiorentina deny Inter criticism|
|Nani relishing Fenerbahce opportunity|