Germany and England secured away wins to cement their places at the group summit but Poland lost their unbeaten record to a dazzling Denmark with Montenegro also closing in.
Article top media content
- Hummels winner keeps Germany five points clear in Group C
- Denmark crush Poland to open up Group E
- England and Slovakia pull away in Group F
- How the groups stand: who's in the hunt to qualify?
- What to look out for in Saturday's European Qualifiers
The visitors made a strong start with Mesut Özil's defence-splitting pass finding Timo Werner for a fourth-minute breakthrough but Germany were unable to build on that positive start and paid the price 12 minutes from time, Vladimír Darida levelling with a stunning shot into the top corner from 25 metres. Germany, however, would not be denied and with two minutes left Toni Kroos clipped in a free-kick that was expertly headed into the net by Mats Hummels, keeping the holders five points clear at the top of Group C.
The away team were made to work, but finally forced the breakthrough 19 minutes from time. Josh Magennis' header was saved but Steven Davis retrieved the ball and crossed low for the Charlton striker to force in at the near post. Four minutes later Conor Washington was the provider, crossing for Magennis to nod a second, and in the 78th minute Davis converted from the penalty spot after Alex Gasperoni's handball. The win takes Michael O'Neill's team seven points clear in second place in Group C.
Josh King broke the deadlock in Oslo, picking himself up after being fouled by Badavi Hüseynov to send Kamran Agayev the wrong way from the penalty spot in the 32nd minute. Norway made sure of the points on the hour when visiting captain Rashad F. Sadygov turned Haitam Aleesami's cross into his own net, and Azerbaijan ended with ten men as Hüseynov collected a second yellow card in the closing stages.
Pacesetters Poland are now only three points ahead of Montenegro and Denmark after their first defeat in the section. Christian Eriksen was the thorn in their side, delivering a corner that Thomas Delaney headed in before crossing for Andreas Cornelius to volley in the second before the break. Nicolai Jørgensen slid in the third before Eriksen curled in a stunning fourth to throw the group wide open.
Montenegro remain in second place after a resounding victory. Marko Vešović burst through and clipped a neat finish over David Loria for the breakthrough before Fatos Bećiraj and Marko Simić headed in Marko Janković free-kicks to remove any doubt.
Mainz striker Alexandru Maxim came off the bench to earn three points in Bucharest, capitalising on good work from Romario Benzar to score the only goal a minute into added time. The visitors had been reduced to ten men in the 54th minute when Taron Voskanyan was dismissed for a second yellow card in conceding a penalty, though Bogdan Stancu could not beat Grigor Meliksetyan from the spot. Romania remain fourth in Group E on nine points, one place and three points better off than their opponents.
England scored four second-half goals to see off a determined Malta and stay top of the group. Harry Kane made the breakthrough but England could only relax in the latter stages with Ryan Bertrand, substitute Danny Welbeck and Kane again giving the scoreline a more flattering look in the final five minutes.
Slovakia remain two points behind England but now have a four-point buffer over the rest thanks to a late own goal from Miha Mevlja. The defender could only turn the ball into his own net under pressure from Adam Nemec after Marek Hamšík's effort cannoned back off the bar. Slovenia are joined by Scotland on 11 points in pursuit of Slovakia.
Scotland boosted their qualification hopes with a clinical display in Vilnius. Stuart Armstrong headed in a Leigh Griffiths corner and Andy Robertson curled in from outside the area to put the visitors in control within half an hour. James McArthur confirmed an impressive victory as Gordon Strachan's side rise to third.