COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Denmark locked up their place in next year s World Cup when they overcame stubborn Austrian resistance to win 1-0 in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
The victory thanks to Joakim Maehle s second-half goal at the Parken Stadium kept the Danes seven points ahead of Scotland, who eked out a late 1-0 win in the Faroe Islands, with two rounds of matches left to play.
"It means a lot," Maehle told Danish television. "It s one of the best nights in Parken in a very long time. It s amazing.
"It wasn t the most beautiful football today, but luckily neither team played well. The most important thing is that we win and that we have the ticket for the World Cup."
Denmark reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020 in July, before losing to England in extra-time. Since then they have won all four of their World Cup qualifiers.
Roared on by the home crowd, Denmark attacked from the kick-off.
Austria, weakened by injury and chastened by a 4-0 thrashing when the two teams met in Vienna in March, were content to defend and attempt to strike on the counter attack.
The Danes dominated the first half but Austrian goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann acrobatically turned away their best efforts, from Andreas Skov Olsen and Mikkel Damsgaard.
The home team broke through early in the second half.
Thomas Delaney collected the ball near halfway, accelerated into space and then swerved across the top of the penalty area, drawing four defenders before sliding a pass to wingback Maehle.
The Atalanta player drove the ball past Bachmann at the near post.
The Danes attacked with less urgency after taking the lead, but the Austrians failed to muster a shot on goal over the 90 minutes.
After eight qualifying matches, the Danes still have not conceded a goal and join Germany among the early qualifiers for next year s showpiece.
"You can only dream about things like this," said midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. "It s crazy. This is huge for me, it s huge for the team, for Danish football and for Denmark.
"With the age and quality we have, we will only keep growing. It s about staying humble and keeping our minds in the right place."