Denmark became the second European nation to reach the 2022 World Cup after a 1-0 home win over Austria on Tuesday left them top of qualifying Group F with an unassailable seven-point lead over second-placed Scotland with two games to spare.
After Germany advanced to the 32-nation tournament in Qatar on Monday, the Danes secured their own berth as a 53rd-minute goal from Joakim Maehle helped them to an eighth successive qualifying victory.
Denmark and Germany joined Qatar, who gained an automatic spot in the finals as the host nation. Only the group winners from European qualifying advance directly while the runners-up enter the playoffs.
Denmark have scored 27 goals and conceded none so far in World Cup qualifying, with their run to the finals underpinned by some impressive free-flowing football.
They did, however, look jittery for long spells against a well-organised Austria side.
Visiting goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann denied Andreas Skov Olsen and Mikkel Damsgaard in the first half and then kept out a Thomas Delaney effort in the 48th minute as the home side struggled to create clear-cut chances.
But Bachmann was powerless five minutes later as Denmark’s best moment of the match produced a brilliant goal with Delaney at the heart of a breathtaking move.
The central midfielder weaved his way past four markers through the middle and then teed up Maehle to plant his shot from eight metres inside the near post and delight the home fans in a packed Parken stadium.
Delaney was elated after the match as Denmark made it to their second successive World Cup, having reached the round of 16 in the 2018 tournament before advancing to the Euro 2020 semi-finals this year.
“It’s a pleasure throughout, in every match,” Delaney told the country’s Kanal 5 television.
“The support we’ve had. It is unique, what we have created, we can be proud of. There have been winds against us in other qualifying campaigns. This is something quite unique to us.”
Maehle added: “It means a lot, it’s one of the coolest nights in the Park in a long time. It is fantastic. It’s strong for us to win here, and we got this ticket to the World Cup.”