NICKLAS Bendtner and Seb Larsson are both going to the Euro 2012 finals after Denmark and Sweden overcame major obstacles in their final qualifying games.
But there was heartache for their two Sunderland team-mates Simon Mignolet and Phil Bardsley as Belgium and Scotland fell at the last hurdle to go crashing out of the competition.
Denmark went into their game against Group H leaders Portugal in Copenhagen knowing they had to win to guarantee progress.
A deflected 13th-minute goal from Michael Krohn-Dehli gave the home side the advantage and Bendtner added a second in the 63rd minute to send the Danes into the finals, despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s spectacular 90th-minute consolation from a free-kick.
Sweden shattered already-qualified Holland’s hopes of finishing Group E with a 100 per record, with the Swedes’ 3-2 win ensuring they also qualified directly as the best runners-up in the qualifying groups.
Kim Kallstrom opened the scoring for the Swedes and although Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Dirk Kuyt replied for the Dutch, Sebastian Larsson and Ola Toivonen won it in the second half.
While it was a night of joy for Bendtner and Larsson, Simon Mignolet and Phil Bardsley both went down to 3-1 defeats.
World champions Spain finished with a 100 per cent record in Group I thanks largely to two David Silva goals. David Villa netted a third for the home side in the Rico Perez Stadium in Alicante, before David Goodwillie scored a consolation goal from the spot.
While Scotland’s exit had been largely expected, Belgium had genuine hopes of staying in the competition after starting the night in a play-off place.
They needed to match or better third-placed Turkey’s result and at half-time were still on course.
But Turkey scraped the win they needed over Azerbaijan in Istanbul thanks to Burak Yilmaz’s 60th minute finish, while Belgium went down to goals from Mesut Ozil, Andre Schurrle and Mario Gomez before Maroane Fellaini grabbed a consolation in the 86th minute which was really no consolation at all.
In the final Sunderland involvement of the evening, John O’Shea achieved what he set out to do by helping the Republic of Ireland to a 2-1 win over third-placed Armenia in Dublin to qualify for the play-offs.
They only achieved it, though, by the skin of their teeth and a great deal of luck.
Armenia keeper Roman Berezovskiy was sent off in the 26th minute and the Irish needed a Valeri Aleksanyan own goal to set them on their way. Kevin Doyle was sent off late and will miss the play-off first leg.
Any doubt over the result was banished when Richard Dunne bundled in to make it 2-0, though Armenia responded quickly when Henrikh Mkhitaryan beat goalkeeper Shay Given with a 20-yard strike three minutes later.