SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - Costa Rica charged into the World Cup before a noisy, thrilled and drenched crowd, beating the United States 3-0 Saturday night on goals by Carlos Hernandez and Paulo Wanchope.
The Americans' shutout streak ended at 33 minutes of the first half when a rain-slicked pass from Alvaro Saborio on the right side slipped past defenders and off the hands of goalkeeper Tim Howard. Wanchope put it home.
Hernandez knocked in another goal at 60 minutes as a disorganized U.S. defense left a huge gap down the center of the field. He added a third at 88 minutes before an increasingly giddy crowd that danced and chanted in the stands.
As it turned out, Costa Rica didn't even need the result - Mexico's 5-2 win over visiting Guatemala moments earlier guaranteed the Ticos one of three guaranteed spots for CONCACAF (Central and North America and Caribbean region) in Germany next year.
With the first half winding down, an apparent U.S. goal by Taylor Twellman was called off by a foul as three Americans cut through the Costa Rican defense on a free kick by Eddie Lewis from the left wing.
The Americans had not allowed a goal in qualifying since losing 2-1 in Mexico City on March 27 - a span of six-plus matches. But coach Bruce Arena used the Costa Rica game to test new players; his team sewed up a World Cup berth Sept. 3 by defeating Mexico.
In Europe, England qualified for the World Cup thanks to a shaky 1-0 victory over Austria coupled with the Netherlands' 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in another group.
Though David Beckham was ejected at Old Trafford - the home of his former club, Manchester United - Frank Lampard's first-half penalty kick was enough to put England within two points of Group 6 leader Poland.
England and Poland are guaranteed to be at least one of the two best second-place teams in European group play. They, along with the eight group winners, qualify; the other six second-place teams play off next month for three more spots.
Twelve other teams clinched World Cup berths, including Poland and the Netherlands.
Three other European teams - Italy, Portugal and Croatia - also punched their tickets. Ukraine and host Germany were already in from Europe.
All five African spots were filled, with Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Angola qualifying for the first time. Tunisia claimed the final spot from the region while perennial World Cup teams Nigeria and Cameroon missed out.
Also, Paraguay and Ecuador joined Brazil and Argentina as South American representatives.
In Group 8, Croatia guaranteed its place with a 1-0 victory over Sweden on Darijo Snra's penalty kick. Italy qualified for the 12th straight time with a 1-0 win over Slovenia in Group 5. Portugal, which needed only a tie to win Group 3, beat Liechtenstein 2-1.
Togo was the biggest surprise in Africa, advancing at the expense of 2002 World Cup quarterfinalist Senegal. The tiny west African country twice came back to beat Republic of Congo to 3-2.
Angola beat Rwanda 1-0 and nudged out Nigeria based on the head-to-head tiebreaker. Ghana had little trouble at Cape Verde Islands, winning 4-0 to clinch Group 2. Ivory Coast beat Sudan 3-1 to clinch Group 3 over Cameroon. Tunisia held Morocco to a 2-2 tie in Group 5.
In Asia, Uzbekistan and Bahrain drew 1-1 in a rematch of the first leg of their playoff. Uzbekistan won 1-0 Sept. 6, but FIFA ordered a replay because of a "technical error" by the referee. The second leg is Wednesday in Bahrain; the winner faces either Trinidad and Tobago or Guatemala in a two-leg playoff for a berth.
In South America, Paraguay qualified when it beat Venezuela 1-0. Ecuador held Uruguay to a 0-0 tie, good enough to advance.