Wayne Rooney scored the all-important opener as England defeated Poland 2-0 at Wembley to clinch a place in next year's World Cup finals.
Steven Gerrard added a late second to ease the nerves as Roy Hodgson's team went through the qualification group unbeaten but there were some tense moments in front of a noisy crowd. Chris Smalling, one of four United starters, was unable to reach a Gerrard free-kick and he and Danny Welbeck were involved in the build-up that led to Andros Townsend hitting the bar.
Welbeck prodded wide of an inviting target and Rooney forced a save out of Wojciech Szczesny before a precious goal duly arrived four minutes before the break. Michael Carrick fed Leighton Baines on the left and, although his fine cross was over Welbeck, Rooney guided a perfect headed finish into the corner of the net.
Robert Lewandowski had chances for Poland but only a spectacular save by Szczesny denied man-of-the-match Rooney a second.
After Carrick was surprisingly withdrawn for Frank Lampard, Rooney was booked as the pressure began
ENGLAND v Poland - Michael Carrick, Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck
FRANCE v Finland - Patrice Evra
Turkey v NETHERLANDS - Robin van Persie
PORTUGAL v Luxembourg - Nani