Craig Bellamy's 17th goal for Wales – making him the fifth highest scorer of all-time for the Principality – was not enough to save them from a 2-1 defeat in their Group Four match away to Finland.
The fiery forward's effort left him behind only Ian Rush, Ivor Allchurch, Trevor Ford and Dean Saunders in the scorers list, and it did at least give Wales hope after a poor start.
Dreadful defending allowed Charlton's Jonatan Johansson in on the right to skip round James Collins before seeing a low shot palmed straight out by Wayne Hennessey. Roni Porokara had the simple task of guiding the ball home from 12 yards.
But Wales could have been ahead after 20 minutes. They equalised after 17 minutes when Gareth Bale sent David Vaughan away down the left. Bellamy escape the attenions of Sami Hyypia to meet the cross close in and beat Jussi Jaaskelainen. Then Jaasklainen saved well from Bellamy after he was put through by Simon Church.
Wales could not impose themselves and Finland's pressure paid 14 minutes from time. Full-back Niklas Moisander was played in by Tim Sparv and he evaded a challenge by Collins and drove an angled shot into the far corner past Bale on the line.
Spain, like England, had already qualified but they preserved a perfect qualifying record with a 2-1 win in Armenia in Group Five. Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas gave them the lead after 33 minutes, Robert Arzumanyan equalised for the home side in the 58th minute but six minutes later Juan Manuel Mata converted a penalty.
Apart from Germany and Italy, other teams to make sure of their berth in South Africa were Denmark and Serbia. Denmark ensured that Portugal, who brushed Hungary aside 3-0, would have to rely on coming through the play-offs by beating Sweden 2-0 to win group one. Serbia qualified for the first time in style, thrashing Romania 5-0.
Beware of the Drog is good advice not only for Chelsea's opponents. Two minutes after coming off the bench in Blantyre Didier Drogba scored the 68th-minute goal that earned Ivory Coast the 1-1 draw they needed away to Malawi to secure their place in the finals. Newcastle United's Geremi helped to keep Cameroon on course for the finals with the first goal in a 3-0 win at home to Togo. But Gabon stayed on their tail with a 3-1 victory over Morocco, Hull's Daniel Cousin scoring their third goal. Adel Taarabt, on loan from Tottenham to QPR, scored late for Morocco.
Scotland, out of the World Cup, were beaten 2-0 in their friendly match in Japan thanks to two late goals. Wolves centre-back Christophe Berra spoiled a decent performance at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama with an own goal eight minutes from time, then with seconds left Keisuke Honda sidefooted home. Both goals followed low crosses.
George Burley, Scotland's manager, gave four players their debut at the start after 10 withdrawals from the original squad. Lee Wallace of Hearts came in at the back with West Bromwich's Graham Dorrans, Ross Wallace of Preston and Dundee United's Craig Conway starting in midfield. Don Cowie and Stephen Hughes came off the bench for their first caps.