Three days after missing the chance to wrap up automatic qualification against Austria, Serbia kept their fans on the edge of their seats until the 75th minute of their duel with Georgia in Belgrade, when Aleksandar Prijovic ended agony by notching the winner – his first-ever international goal.
Serbia finished at top of Europe’s Group D with 21 points from 10 games.
It is the second time Serbia have reached the finals as an independent nation, having been knocked in the group stages of the 2010 tournament in South Africa and then missing the next three major soccer events.
Prijovic grabbed the winner with a fine finish to delight anxious home fans in Red Star’s Rajko Mitic stadium, who lit flares to celebrate after he scored while fireworks were set off by the organisers after the final whistle.
“Thank you very much for your fantastic support and we look forward to playing for you in Russia,” Serbia’s captain Branislav Ivanovic said in an on-pitch address to the crowd.