Below-par England need only a point from next month's trip to Montenegro to reach the Euro 2012 finals after Ashley Young's goal earned a 1-0 victory over Wales at Wembley.
Young struck his third goal for his country 10 minutes before half-time when converting from Stewart Downing's low cross.
But England were unimpressive and relieved when Wales substitute Robert Earnshaw shot over from less than six yards out.
Frank Lampard, left out of the side which won in Bulgaria on Friday, and James Milner were included in place of Scott Parker and the injured Theo Walcott. Meanwhile, Wales were without the suspended duo of Craig Bellamy and David Vaughan and brought Jack Collison and Andrew Crofts into their line-up.
Lampard nearly caught out the visitors with a 50-yard pass over the top of the defence for Wayne Rooney but the ball skidded off the surface through to Wayne Hennessey.
Rooney looked full of confidence after his two goals against Bulgaria but one chip from just outside the Wales box was too high before Young dragged a cross back from the byline but it was just too far behind Downing for him to keep his volley down.
England enjoyed the majority of possession but were struggling to break down a well-organised Welsh side as the game went past the half hour mark. But after 35 minutes Young broke the deadlock with a clinical finish. Downing easily skipped past Joe Ledley before turning the ball across the six-yard box and Young made no mistake at the near post.
England began the second half at a higher tempo and a reverse pass from Lampard played in Young whose cross-shot was beaten away by Hennessey. Yet they were almost caught napping when Bale's pass picked out Aaron Ramsey 10 yards out, only for a superb interception by Gareth Barry to deny the Arsenal player a clear opportunity.
Hennessey failed to hold onto an inswinging free-kick from Downing which broke to Gary Cahill but he failed to repeat the accuracy which led to his goal in Bulgaria on Friday and lofted his effort wide.
Gareth Bale curled a free-kick just over as Wales began to threaten and only a terrible miss from Earnshaw after 76 minutes denied the visitors an equaliser. The Cardiff striker had an opportunity to redeem himself when breaking down the left minutes later but he curled his shot wide.
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