2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying: Biggest Results from Decisive Tuesday Slate
With the group stage of World Cup qualifying culminating for many national teams Tuesday, implications were huge as teams' fates were being decided and tickets to Brazil were being punched left and right.
The qualifying stage isn't over for many nations, as playoff matchups loom all over the world and many of them include teams that will surprise you.
Let's take a look at some of the biggest results from Tuesday's World Cup qualifying matches.
Russia Notch Crucial Point, Book Ticket to Brazil
All Russia needed was a point in order to end a lengthy World Cup drought and secure their spot atop Europe's Group F, and they got it in exciting fashion against Azerbaijan in a 1-1 draw.
The Russians struck first in the 15th minute on a Roman Shirokov goal, and seemed to have three points in the bag when their opponent was reduced to 10 men. Azerbaijan's Vagif Javadov netted an epic 90th-minute header to put the pressure on, but his side couldn't do enough to pull out a victory.
At the beginning of the group stage, not many folks would've pegged Russia to top Portugal in Group F. But just one point behind, Cristiano Ronaldo and company are relegated to the playoff stage for the third straight time.
Finishing atop the group means Russia make their first World Cup appearance since 2002.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Qualify For First Time
The Cinderella story of next summer's World Cup just emerged on Tuesday, as Bosnia and Herzegovina head to the biggest stage in world football for the first time in the nation's history.
FIFA's Twitter account summed up the moment:
The country that has only existed since 1992 needed a win against Lithuania to stay alive for the clinching spot after Greece won their match. They pulled out a 1-0 victory off a Vedad Ibisevic goal in the 68th minute.
Transfer Sources captured a crazy photo of the ensuing celebration in the capital of Sarajevo:
Bosnia qualify for the World Cup for the first time!! Amazing picture from Sarajevo right now. pic.twitter.com/umc5DklDy4— Transfer Sources (@TransferSources) October 15, 2013
Greece were widely expected to take care of Group G quite swiftly, but Bosnia and Herzegovina stuck with them and controlled their own destiny heading into the fateful slate of Tuesday matches.
Needing a goal with less than half an hour of life left, they delivered—and in doing so, the side showed a clutch gene that they'll need to win games in Brazil next summer.
Mexico Keep Hopes Alive, Thanks to USA
All Mexico needed was a Panama loss or a tie to stay alive in the fourth spot in the CONCACAF group, which results in a two-leg playoff against New Zealand. But they controlled their own destiny with a point or more against Costa Rica on Tuesday.
El Tri squandered the opportunity, losing 2-1 and showcasing the inability to attack the net down the stretch. As Panama took a 2-1 lead in their match against the U.S. into stoppage time, all signs pointed to Mexico missing their first World Cup since 1982.
Then, fate struck on the foot of Graham Zusi two minutes into stoppage time. His goal tied the Americans—who had nothing to play for, having already secured their bid—up with Panama, and Aron Johannsson's goal just one minute later sealed Mexico's fate in the playoff.
Had the players known a loss would've kept their bitter rival from the south out of the World Cup, perhaps efforts would've been diverted. But the USA found something to play for, and the Mexicans sure are thankful for it.
Steven Cook covers breaking news for Bleacher Report
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