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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines helped England finally book their place at next summer's World Cup, but Tuesday's qualifiers also brought injury fears surrounding Darron Gibson.

Everton's English defensive duo started Tuesday's must-win clash against Poland at Wembley and were pivotal in the 2-0 triumph, while Ross Barkley was an unused substitute.

With top-spot rivals Ukraine racing into a convincing lead against San Marino, the Three Lions required nothing less than three points to ensure automatic qualification.

And it was the left-foot of Baines that helped provide England the goal they desperately needed; the full-back's pinpoint left-wing cross meeting the head of Wayne Rooney to be steered into the bottom corner on 41 minutes.

Steven Gerrard would seal it in the closing stages as Jagielka and his backline dealt with the counter-attacking threats of Robert Lewandoski and company.

Meanwhile, Gibson was stretchered off as the Republic of Ireland finished their unsuccessful qualifying campaign with a 3-1 victory in Dublin on Tuesday evening.

Elsewhere, the already Brazil-bound Belgium rounded off their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Wales, with Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas earning 90 and 77 minutes respectively.

Over in Glasgow, Steven Naismith got on the scoresheet as Scotland's improvement under Gordon Strachan continued with a 2-0 win over Croatia.

Defeat wasn't the end of the world for Nikica Jelavic's home nation, however. Igor Stimac's side knew a place in the play-offs was secured and must now face further obstacles to reach next summer's tournament.

Naismith played the entire contest and steered home the rebound as Barry Bannan saw his 73rd-minute penalty saved. Jelavic came off the bench for the final 10 minutes but could not spearhead a late comeback.

Bryan Oviedo's Costa Rica are another side already through to Brazil, but they still managed to defeat Mexico 2-1 with the Everton man playing the full 90 minutes.

In youth action, John Stones was accomplished throughout England Under-21s' 5-0 European Championship qualifying win over Lithuania.

Shane Duffy wore the armband but couldn't taste a similar result as the Republic of Ireland Under-21s fell 1-0 to Romania in Sligo.

Gerard Deulofeu played the final 11 minutes of Spain Under-21s' 1-0 win over Hungary in Group 4, while Matthew Kennedy remained on the bench during Scotland's 2-1 defeat to Georgia.

Apostolos Vellios played the opening 24 minutes of Greece Under-21s' 4-0 win over Malta. The forward won a 17th-minute penalty before his early withdrawal in the Group 7 clash.

Meanwhile, George Green gained 30 minutes of action during England Under-18s' 4-0 win over Hungary on home soil Monday.

Watch Everton's World Cup heroes this Saturday at Goodison when Hull City are the visitors. Click here to book your tickets.

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