Gareth Southgate made a solid start as interim England manager with a 2-0 win against Malta in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley, thanks to goals from Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli.
Southgate, named in temporary charge following Sam Allardyce’s departure, handed a debut to Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard while opting to play captain Wayne Rooney in a holding midfield role as England saw out a second win in as many games in Group F.
Sturridge, who has seen his playing time at Liverpool limited this season, made the most of the chance to impress by heading England in front from a Jordan Henderson cross in the 29th minute.
And patient build-up play allowed England to double their advantage through Dele Alli in the 38th minute. The Tottenham man saw his initial effort saved by Malta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg but poked in the rebound from close range to score his second international goal.
Among the other games in Group F, James McArthur’s late equaliser helped Scotland avoid a damaging defeat in a 1-1 draw with Lithuania.
Fiodor Cernych scored the opener in the 59th minute after playing a one-two with Vykintas Slivka, stunning the crowd at Hampden Park.
But in the 89th minute, McArthur headed home after Grant Hanley flicked on a long throw-in to salvage the point.
Through two games, England hold a two-point lead over Scotland andSlovenia, who secured a 1-0 home win over Slovakia thanks to Rok Kronaveter’s 74th-minute strike from the top of the box.
Thomas Muller scored twice as Germany retained the lead in Group C with a 3-0 win over Czech Republic.
The Bayern Munich striker has yet to find the net in the Bundesliga this season, but he opened the scoring on 13 minutes after Mario Gotze’s pass into the box was pushed on by Mesut Ozil, and Muller calmly fired home.
Toni Kroos provided Germany’s second with a first-time shot from the top of the box four minutes after half-time, before Muller added their third by redirecting Jonas Hector’s low cross in the 65th minute.
Azerbaijan are level on points with Germany after earning a second-straight victory to start their Group C campaign by stunning Norway 1-0.
Maksim Medvedev’s first-time shot found the net in the 11th minute to give Azerbaijan six points following their opening win over San Marino.
Also in Group C, Northern Ireland earned their first win of the campaign, 4-0at home over minnows San Marino.
Steven Davis opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 26th minute after Josh Magennis was pushed in the box.
The visitors’ hopes of finding an equaliser mostly ended when Mirko Palazz received a second yellow card four minutes after half-time.
Kyle Lafferty then added a brace either side of a Jamie Ward goal to seal the three points.
In Group E, Robert Lewandowski’s hat trick barely held up for Poland in a 3-2 win over Denmark.
Lewandowski found the breakthough from close range in the 20th minute, then added a second from the penalty spot on 36 minutes after Arkadiusz Milik was brought down close to goal.
The third goal came two minutes after half-time when he turned a defender at the centre line and ran in on goal before finishing at the near post.
There was a nervy finish, however, after Kamil Glik headed into his own net and Yussuf Poulsen bundled the ball over the line on 69 minutes, but there would be no equaliser.
Romania dominated 10-man Armenia 5-0 to get back on track in Group E after an opening draw.
Armenia’s Gor Malakyan was sent off after just three minutes for preventing a ball from going over the goal line with his arm, and the floodgates opened after Bogdan Stancu put in the resulting penalty.
Goals from Adrian Popa, Razvan Marin and Nicolae Stanciu had Romania 4-0 up before the half-hour mark, and Alexandru Chipciu added a fifth in the second half.
Also in Group E, Montenegro kept pace with a 5-0 win of their own overKazakhstan.
Zarko Tomasevic got a touch of his head to a free kick for the opener in the 24th minute before the hosts extended their lead in the second half.
Nikola Vukcevic’s flicked header went in off the post before Stevan Jovetic turned in a pass from Adam Marusic.
Fatos Beqiraj converted Marko Vesovic’s ball in from close range in the 73rd minute and Stefan Savic’s header four minutes later completed the scoring.