England (7/1 World Cup 2022 outright) secured a predictably routine win against Andorra on Saturday night to go one step towards sealing a spot in the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Gareth Southgate elected to go for an experimental line up with the rejuvenated Roma forward Tammy Abraham leading the line, while West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone was also selected.
In truth, England were always going to win and it was a case of coming through with as few knocks and scrapes as possible.
Ben Chilwell, Bukayo Saka, Abraham, James Ward-Prowse and a first England goal from substitute Jack Grealish saw England grab a 5-0 win to continue their unbeaten record during qualifying, which they will seek to prolong against Hungary (Match Betting – England 1/6, draw 13/2, Hungary 20/1) on Tuesday.
“The longer the number of caps stack up and the goals column stays blank, it can become a thing,” said Southgate on Grealish’s first goal.
“Sometimes he can be in the right areas a little bit more often and make sure he is not outside the box when balls are flashing across the face.”
Meanwhile, Scotland defeated Israel 3-2 in a Hampden thriller as Scott McTominay bagged a 94th minute to keep them second in the group.
Israel went ahead through Eran Zahavi before John McGinn levelled.
Munas Dabbur restored the visitors’ lead before Lyndon Dykes found the net after missing a penalty earlier on.
A draw seemed inevitable but McTominay poked home from close range after a corner to send Hampden into ecstasy, days before they travel to the Faroe Islands (Match Betting – Faroe Islands 10/1, draw 4/1, Scotland 1/3).
“The first half wasn’t good enough. The second was a lot better,” McGinn said.
“It could have been quite easy at half-time to fold but it’s a home game and we wanted to send the fans home happy. It’s been a couple of years since they’ve had a day like today but I’m sure they’ll have smiles on their faces.”
Wales drew 2-2 with the Czech Republic on Friday to stay third and level on points with their opponents.
In a cracking contest, it was Dan James who rescued a point following a calamitous own goal from keeper Danny Ward.
Aaron Ramsey gave Wales the lead before it was cancelled out two minutes later by Jakub Pesek.
Ward’s own goal came just after half time before Wales levelled with Rob Page’s men set to visit Estonia (Match Betting – Estonia 11/2, draw 11/4, Wales 3/5) on Monday.
Finally, Northern Ireland’s hopes of World Cup qualification took a devastating blow after they were beaten 2-0 by Switzerland with 10 men.
Jamal Lewis was dismissed in the first half for two yellows and Ian Baraclough’s men were duly punished by goals from Steven Zuber and Christian Fassnacht.
Northern Ireland are third in the group on five points, six behind Switzerland with three games remaining (Match Betting – Bulgaria 13/8, draw 2/1, Northern Ireland 2/1).