Italy took their first victory since lifting the Euro 2020 trophy by beating Lithuania 5-0, while Spain and Germany both won but Sweden were stunned by Greece.
Young strikers Moise Kean and Giacomo Raspadori inspired the Lithuanian beating to strengthen Italy’s grip on first place in Group C.
The two 21-year-olds lit up the first half as Kean scored twice on either side with an own goal from Edgaras Utku and a strike from Raspadori, making his first start for his country.
It was the first time that Italy, who endured frustrating draws against Bulgaria and Switzerland in their previous two qualifiers, scored four goals in the first 30 minutes of a game.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo inadvertently added a fifth when his second-half cross-shot tucked into the bottom corner, as Roberto Mancini’s side comfortably extended their unbeaten international record to 37 appearances.
In the other group game, Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s penalty save was won North Ireland a point as they played an often intense draw but ultimately 0-0 against Switzerland at Windsor Park.
Group B: Spain beat Kosovo, Sweden beaten
Pablo Fornals and Ferran Torres goals won Spain a 2-0 away win Kosovo and brought them back into the automatic qualifying conflict.
Fornals had a nice finish near the corner post in the 32nd minute after clever construction play from Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata.
Spain dominated the ball for large parts of the game but were nearly defeated on numerous occasions as their high defensive line was exploited by the hosts.
They were indebted for a lavish finish, especially Vedat Muriqi, who cleared on goal but landed his strike from Unai Simon’s left post.
Simon then almost offered the hosts an equalizer as he came out of his box to meet a long ball over it, only to find himself in a falling out with Inigo Martinez.
The Athletic Bilbao striker was just able to turn back the clock and stop Florian Loshaj’s effort to keep Spain in the lead.
It turned out to be a crucial save as Torres sealed the victory in the 90th minute on a counterattack. After initially being flagged offside, the goal was awarded following a VAR check.
Sweden found themselves on the wrong side of a 2-1 loss to Greece to complete their perfect group start, and are now four points behind Spain after playing two games less.
Captain Tasos Basaketas pulled the hosts into the lead on time before Vangelis Pavlidis doubled the advantage in the finals. Sweden fell behind at the end of the game thanks to Robin Quaison, but Greece held on.
Group J: Germany beats Iceland
Winger Leroy Sane scored one goal and made another as Germany won three straight victories with a resounding 4-0 victory over Iceland.
The Germans took the lead in the fifth minute when Sane played with Serge Gnabry to score, and after a lengthy VAR review for a possible offside the goal was held.
The visitors added a second 20 minutes later when Antonio Rudiger was not scored to score with a header from a Joshua Kimmich free kick.
Iceland nearly fell back by a point early in the second half when Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s curling shot hit the post and Albert Gudmundsson released the rebound, but he was offside in the preparation and the goal has been scored.
A constant threat with his quick dribbles and precise passing, Sane effectively killed the game by sending the ball into the roof of the net after another fluent German attack 11 minutes into the second half.
Kai Havertz wasted a three-on-one opportunity by shooting narrowly with the goal at his mercy and Timo Werner failed to put Lukas Klostermann’s pass into an empty net.
Werner made amends by adding a fourth fourth that hit the left post and rebounded before crossing the line to complete an encouraging team performance.
Second Armenia lost ground in their weak hopes of catching Germany with a 1-1 draw at home against Liechtenstein, with a goalless draw between North Macedonia and Romania also not doing either of their hopes much good.
Group E: Belgium beats Belarus, Estonia beats Wales hopes
Dennis Praet’s first-half goal ensured a narrow 1-0 away win for Belgium more Belarus in Kazan to bring them closer to qualifying for the World Cup.
The midfielder’s 33rd-minute goal continued Belgium’s unbeaten streak in Group E as they reached 16 points, nine points ahead of the Czech Republic, who played one game less, and the Country. Wales, who are two games short.
Praet fought off Belarusian goalkeeper Sergei Chernik after a short pass from Alexis Saelemaekers, two minutes after Michy Batshuayi had the ball in the net but his effort was ruled offside.
Belarus, which did not hamper Belgium in the game, have now lost four of the five qualifications and sit second from the bottom of the group.
Wales’ hopes of an automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup have been seriously shaken as Estonia drew 0-0 at Cardiff City Stadium.
Seven points behind Belgium with two games short, Page’s side failed to create enough against a side ranked nearly 100 places below them and missed three desperately needed points to keep in touch. with the leaders of the group.
Gareth Bale hit the woodwork late in the game on the rebound of his own effort, while Tyler Roberts was denied by Karl Hein when he played flawlessly and Harry Wilson kicked off a good position in the first minute.
Group I: Albania second with the beating, England held in Poland
Albania beat Poland in second place in group I thanks to a 5-0 blow from the minnows San Marino.
Rey Manaj tacked the hosts ahead with more goals from Qazim Laci, with Chelsea striker Armando Broja, Elseid Hysaj and Myrto Uzini giving them a point ahead of Poland.
Hungary also contested for a place in the play-offs with a 2-1 victory over Andorra, and had to survive a late fright en route to victory.
Adam Szalai gave them the lead after nine minutes before Endre Botka doubled the lead.
But with no more goals to show for their dominance, Hungary were pushed back thanks to a late strike from Max Llovera, before hanging on for the win.
england a perfect start to qualifying for the World Cup ended in dramatic fashion, with a gripping last-breath equalizer Poland a 1-1 draw in Warsaw against Gareth Southgate’s side.
The visitors were on their way to six out of six wins in Group I thanks to the superb long-distance strike from Harry Kane (72 ‘), but two minutes after the stoppage time, Robert Lewandowski crossed for Damian Szymanski at the far post. .