France, Portugal and Russia earned victories over Ireland, Bosnia and Slovenia respectively, in their World Cup play-offs first legs, while Greece and Ukraine played out a goalless stalemate.
In Dublin, France secured a precious 1-0 advantage via a deflected Nicolas Anelka shot midway thgrough the second half.
For Portugal, Bruno Alves headed home after half an hour to give his side a 1-0 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina. The visitors hit the woodwork twice in the second half when Dzeko headed against the bar and Sanel Jahic fired the rebound against the post.
Russia were 2-1 victors after Diniyar Bilyaletdinov scored twice before Nejc Pencnik struck late on to give Slovenia an away goal and a lifeline.
Ukraine and Greece remain deadlocked after a goallesss draw in Athens.
Egypt and Algeria will play a one-off play-off match in Sudan on Wednesday to determine which side will qualify for the World Cup finals after Egypt’s 2-0 win over their North African rivals left both countries with identical records at the end of the qualifying campaign.
Substitute Emad Moteab’s header in the 95th minute gave Egypt the 2-0 winning margin they needed in Cairo to leave the two countries equal on points, and with identical records, at the top of Group C.
Nigeria clinched their place after beating Kenya 3-2 in Nairobi courtesy of a last minute winner by Obafemi Martins, while Cameroon qualified for their sixth World Cup, a record for an African nation, with a 2-0 Group A win in Morocco.
The New Zealand Football chief executive, Michael Glading, has promised the cash earned from qualifying for the finals for the first time since 1982 will not be squandered.
New Zealand expect to earn around £4.4 million for qualifying after the Plymouth striker Rory Fallon headed in the winner in a 1-0 victory over Bahrain in their Asia/Oceania play-off in Wellington.
Apart from the four European play-offs, the last place at the finals will be decided on Wednesday with Uruguay favourites to become South America’s fifth qualifier following a 1-0 win overten-man Costa Rica in the first leg of their South America/CONCACAF play-off.