World Cup qualifying: wins for England, Germany and Poland
Gareth Southgate got off to a winning start as England's caretaker manager as Europe's big sides all secured home World Cup qualifying wins on Saturday.
England 2-0 Malta
Gareth Southgate's plea for England to play with adventure and style was answered half-heartedly as his spell as caretaker manager began with a 2-0 win over Malta at Wembley. It took half an hour for the former England defender's side to break down the stubborn visiting defence but first-half goals from Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli ultimately secured the three points. The win was never in doubt – such was England’s dominance – but the performance brought only the odd smile back to the crowd of over 81,000 fans. Southgate, who has four matches to secure the job full-time, will be aggrieved that his side lacked the wit to convert their second-half domination of a side ranked 176th in the world into many more goals.
Germany 3-0 Czech Republic
Thomas Müller scored a brace for the second qualifier in a row to lead a dominant Germany side to a comprehensive 3-0 win over the Czech Republic in Hamburg. Joachim Löw’s side needed just 13 minutes to break the deadlock as Mario Götze burst down the left and his pass into the box was touched on by Mesut Özil for Müller to open the scoring. Germany, who beat Norway by the same score in their opening qualifier last month, continually carved open the Czech defence with neat interchanges between Müller, Özil, Julian Draxler and Götze in a false nine position. Toni Kroos doubled Germany's lead four minutes after the restart when he got in front of his marker and showed wonderful technique to place a side-footed shot past goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik before Müller rounded off the scoring in the 65th minute, turning in Jonas Hector's low cross at the near post.
Poland 3-2 Denmark
A hat-trick by in-form striker Robert Lewandowski lifted Poland to a 3-2 victory over Denmark in a thrilling match in Warsaw. A packed 56,000 crowd saw the home team take the lead in the 20th minute as Lewandowski tucked in Kamil Grosicki’s cross from close range. Poland kept attacking, with particular joy down the wings, and Lewandowski made it 2-0 with a penalty nine minutes before half-time after full-back Jannik Vestergaard had brought down Arek Milik. The Bayern Munich marksman's third goal came at the start of the second half, pouncing on a errant clearance by Vestergaard. Denmark pulled one back in the 49th minute as Poland's Kamil Glik turned the ball past his own goalkeeper, after which the visitors suddenly began to dominate possession. The impressive Yussuf Poulsen netted Denmark’s second in the 69th minute but Aage Hareide’s men were unable to draw level as Poland managed to contain playmaker Christian Eriksen, Denmark’s main creative influence.
A full round-up of results from Saturday's World Cup qualifiers:
Azerbaijan 1-0 Norway; Germany 3-0 Czech Republic; Northern Ireland 4-0 San Marino
Armenia 0-5 Romania; Montenegro 5-0 Kazakhstan; Poland 3-2 Denmark
England 2-0 Malta; Scotland 1-1 Lithuania; Slovenia 1-0 Slovakia