- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

BRUSSELS (AP) - Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens both scored a goal and provided an assist to help Belgium secure top spot in Group B and first place in the FIFA rankings with a 3-1 victory over Israel in their European Championship qualifier on Tuesday.

Victory meant that the 2-0 win of runner-up Wales over Andorra had no impact on the final standings. In a head-to-head for a third-place playoff spot, Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Cyprus 3-2 to give the 2014 World Cup finalist a shot at a second straight major tournament from the playoffs.

In Brussels, Mertens broke the deadlock in the 64th minute on an assist by De Bruyne, finishing off with a low shot. Manchester City’s De Bruyne scored with a 25-meter free kick in the 78th before Eden Hazard added a goal in the 84th leaving Israel with no more than a last minute consolation goal from Tommer Hemed.

“I am super pleased. Yes! No. 1 in the world,” said Mertens on Belgium’s unlikely run from 71st place in 2007 to sweeping past Germany and Argentina over the past weekend to top place.

Israel knew what opposition it faced and fell back in defense even if it needed victory for a shot at advancing to the playoffs.

Before a raucous crowd of 42,000 at the King Baudouin stadium, it fell to Mertens to break the deadlock. As so often, Belgium then pushed through in the final stages of the match.

“Whatever happens, we get through it,” defender Vincent Kompany said.

In a seesaw cliffhanger in Nicosia where the lead changed three times, it was finally Bosnia which pulled through to reach the playoffs, based largely on a brace of first time goals from Deportivo La Coruna’s Haris Medunjanin.

In Cardiff, it was another player in Spanish employ, Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, who was celebrating. With the last goal of Wales’ successful campaign, he set off the party for the team’s first qualification for a major tournament since 1958 after Aaron Ramsey had scored the opener.

Belgium finished top of the group with 23 points, two more than Wales. Bosnia finished with 17 for the playoff spot while Israel was fourth with 13 points, one more than Cyprus. Andorra had none.

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