Italy took their first win since winning the Euro 2020 trophy by beating Lithuania 5-0, while Spain and Germany both won, but Sweden was stunned by Greece.
Young strikers Moise Kean and Giacomo Raspadori inspired the Lithuanians to strengthen Italy’s lead over first place in Group C.
The two 21-year-olds sparked the first half when Kean scored two goals on both sides after an own goal by Edgaras Utku and a goal by Raspadori, celebrating his first appearance for his country.
It was the first time Italy, who saw frustrating draws against Bulgaria and Switzerland in their last two qualifiers, scored four goals in the first 30 minutes of a game.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo accidentally added a fifth place when his cross shot landed in the bottom corner in the second half as Roberto Mancini’s side comfortably expanded their record run to 37 games without defeat.
In the other game in the group, Bailey Peacock-Farrell earned the penalty Northern Ireland a point because they fought an often intense, but ultimately 0-0 draw against themselves Switzerland in Windsor Park.
Group B: Spain fail at Kosovo, Sweden defeated
Scored goals by Pablo Fornals and Ferran Torres Spain a 2-0 away win against Kosovo and pulled them back into the automatic qualifying competition.
Fornals scored a nice finish in the 32nd minute after clever build-up games from Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata just before the post from the corner.
Spain dominated the ball for much of the game but was almost ruined several times as their high line of defense was exploited by the hosts.
They were largely thanks to Vedat Muriqi, who ran cleanly on goal but shot past Unai Simon’s left post.
Simon then almost equalized the hosts as he stormed out of his box to hit a long ball over the top only to tangle with Inigo Martinez.
The Athletic Bilbao defender managed to climb back and stop Florian Loshaj’s shot on goal to keep Spain in the lead.
It turned out to be a decisive save when Torres sealed the victory in the 90th minute after a counterattack. After the initial offside position, the goal was awarded after a VAR check.
Sweden found themselves at the wrong end after a 2-1 defeat Greece to end their perfect group start and are now four points behind Spain after playing two games less.
Captain Tasos Basaketas gave the hosts an hour lead before Vangelis Pavlidis doubled their lead in the closing stages. Sweden withdrew late through Robin Quaison, but Greece held out.
Group J: Germany beats Iceland
Winger Leroy Sane scored one goal and made another as Germany did it with a clear 4-0 win over three wins in a row Iceland.
The Germans took the lead in the fifth minute when Sane played to score in Serge Gnabry and after a lengthy VAR check for a possible offside, the goal was.
The guests added a second goal 20 minutes later when Antonio Rüdiger went unnoticed with a header from a Joshua Kimmich free kick.
Iceland almost caught up early in the second half when Johann Berg Gudmundsson hit the post with one shot and Albert Gudmundsson shot the rebound, but he was offside in the build-up and the goal was marked in chalk.
A constant threat with his quick dribbles and precise passes, Sane effectively ended the game when he hit the ball after another flowing German attack in the 11th
Kai Havertz missed a three-on-one chance by just missing the goal, and Timo Werner somehow failed to throw Lukas Klostermann’s pass into the empty goal.
Werner made up for it by adding a late fourth place that hit the left post and bounced outward before spinning back over the line to top off an encouraging team effort.
Runner-up Armenia lost in the faint hope of beating Germany 1-1 at home Liechtenstein, with a goalless tie in between North Macedonia and Romania neither does any of their hopes do much good.
Group E: Belgium defeat Belarus, Estonia crush Wales’ hopes
Dennis Praet’s goal in the first half secured a narrow 1-0 away win for Belgium Above Belarus in Kazan to get closer to qualifying for the World Cup.
The midfielder’s 33rd-minute goal sustained Belgium’s unbeaten Group E run as they advanced to 16 points, nine points ahead of the Czech Republic, who have played one game less, and Wales, who have two games in the game.
Two minutes after Michy Batshuayi had the ball in the net, Praet failed after a short pass from Alexis Saelemaekers with a shot to Belarus goalkeeper Sergei Chernik.
Belarus, which did not bother Belgium in the game, have now lost four out of five qualifying games and are now in second place in the group.
Wales’ Hopes for an automatic qualification for the World Cup next year have been badly hit since Estonia a 0-0 draw at Cardiff City Stadium.
Seven points behind Belgium and two games in hand, Robert Page’s team failed to create enough against a team nearly 100 places below and missed the much-needed three points to get in touch with the group leader stay.
Gareth Bale hit the woodwork late in the game when he ricocheted off under his own steam, while Tyler Roberts was fought off perfectly by Karl Hein and Harry Wilson missed wide in the first minute from a good position with his side foot.
Group I: Albania finished second with a beating, England in Poland
Albania preferred to Poland to second place in Group I thanks to a 5-0 shot from minnows San Marino.
Rey Manaj scored the hosts one point ahead of Poland with further goals from Qazim Laci, Chelsea strikers Armando Broja, Elseid Hysaj and Myrto Uzini.
Hungary entered the battle for a play-off spot with a 2-1 win Andorra, and had to endure a late horror on the way to victory.
Adam Szalai gave them the lead after nine minutes from the point before Endre Botka doubled the lead.
But with no more goals to prove their dominance, Hungarians were held back by Max Llovera’s late strike before they held the victory.
England perfect start to the World Cup qualification ended dramatically with a final equalizer to equalize Poland a 1-1 draw in Warsaw against Gareth Southgate’s side.
The guests in Group I were on their way to six of six wins thanks to Harry Kane’s long-range shot (72nd), but two minutes after stoppage time Robert Lewandowski crossed a header for Damian Szymanski from the back post.