Germany became the first team to qualify for UEFA EURO 2012 on Friday night and did so in some style against Austria while England and the Netherlands both moved a step closer to joining them with comfortable wins.
Although Turkey's last-gasp 2-1 victory over Kazakhstan meant Germany still needed a result at home to Austria to clinch first place in Group A, Joachim Löw's side cruised to a 6-2 defeat of their southern neighbours. With Belgium held 1-1 in Azerbaijan, Turkey are now strongly positioned in second place ahead of Tuesday's trip to Austria.
England have opened up a three-point lead in Group G after winning 3-0 in Bulgaria while Montenegro went down 2-1 in Wales, who had not previously registered a point. The Netherlands, meanwhile, could not have had a better day as they secured a national record 11-0 defeat of San Marino while their closest Group E rivals Sweden lost 2-1 in Hungary. Bert van Marwijk's side are six points clear of both those teams and victory in Finland on Tuesday would leave them all but qualified for Poland and Ukraine.
Things were less comfortable for Italy in their 1-0 Group C win in the Faroe Islands but Slovenia's 2-1 home reverse against Estonia allowed the Azzurri to move eight points clear. Serbia joined a tight-looking tussle for second place and are the only side who can catch Italy thanks to a 1-0 victory in Northern Ireland, fifth but only two points off second-placed Slovenia. France earned a 2-1 Group D success in Albania and are now three points clear after Belarus crashed 2-0 at home to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Also opening up a lead were Russia, who won 1-0 at home to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and are now two points ahead of both the Republic of Ireland and Slovakia following their 0-0 Group B draw in Dublin. Group F, meanwhile, looks a two-horse race between Greece, who prevailed 1-0 in Israel, and Croatia, 3-1 victors in Malta to remain within a point of the summit.
In Group H, Portugal won 4-0 in Cyprus while Norway defeated Iceland 1-0 and both are three points ahead of Denmark, who did not play and so have a game in hand. Group I leaders Spain were not in competitive action, beating Chile 3-2 in a friendly, and their nearest challengers Scotland and the Czech Republic play on Saturday. Lithuania's hopes of a play-off place were hit by a 0-0 draw with Liechtenstein.
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