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WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS

England poor in Slovenia draw as Germany ease to victory

Gareth Southgate's men had Joe Hart to thank as they escaped with a point on Tuesday, as the world champions saw off Northern Ireland.

England poor in Slovenia draw as Germany ease to victory
Laurence Griffiths Getty Images

England laboured to a 0-0 draw away to Slovenia on Tuesday in their 2018 World Cup qualifier with Wayne Rooney dropped to the bench, while title holders Germany remained firmly on course for the finals.

England struggle to stalemate in Slovenia

Goalkeeper Joe Hart produced three terrific saves to deny Roman Bezjak, Josip Ilicic and Jasmin Kurtic, who also hit the post, as Gareth Southgate's inexperienced side clung on for a point in Ljubljana to remain top of Group F.

Hart makes a save during England's draw with Slovenia in Ljubljana.

Jesse Lingard's fierce long-range strike forced Slovenia goalkeeper Jan Oblak into a sharp stop late on as the stalemate ensured both countries maintained their undefeated starts to the campaign.

"It's my best game for a while but it was down to a few errors from us," said Hart, who kept a third successive clean sheet in qualifying.

"We have to improve but we are trying to qualify for Russia. My body is in pieces, I'll struggle to get up tomorrow," added Hart, who has been sent out on loan to Serie A outfit Torino after losing his place at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola.

Slovakia down Scots

England moved on to seven points after three matches, two more than Slovenia and Lithuania, who defeated 10-man Malta 2-0 in Vilnius.

Slovakia's player's celebrate Robert Mak's second goal in their 3-0 win over Scotland.

Slovakia registered their first points with a commanding 3-0 victory over Scotland in Trnava where Robert Mak scored twice before Adam Nemec capped off a miserable evening for Gordon Strachan's visitors.

Germany cruise past Northern Ireland

In Hanover, defending champions Germany swept aside Northern Ireland 2-0 with first-half goals from Julian Draxler and Sami Khedira sending Joachim Loew's men two points clear in Group C and looking ominous.

"We've done our job, taking six points [over the international break] and not conceding any goals," said Loew. "We scored our two goals very early and that allowed us to win without suffering."

Khedira (third left) celebrates with his Germany team-mates after scoring his team's second against Northern Ireland.

Czechs held by Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan extended their unbeaten run with a hard-fought point in a goalless draw in the Czech Republic, Robert Prosinecki's team a surprise second in the standings following their shock defeat of Norway at the weekend.

Norway save their blushes

The Norwegians were in danger of another highly embarrassing result at home to San Marino before three goals in the final 13 minutes eased tensions in Oslo as the hosts won 4-1.

Lewandowski Poland's match winner, Montenegro beat Danes

Robert Lewandowski snatched a dramatic stoppage-time winner as Poland overcome 10-man Armenia 2-1 in Warsaw.

Lewandowski scored a last-gasp winner for Poland against Armenia.

Hrayr Mkoyan's own goal just after the break gifted Poland the lead, but Armenia, who played a man down for an hour after the dismissal of Gael Andonian, levelled two minutes later through Marcos Pizzelli.

However, Lewandowski scored for the eighth straight qualifier as he headed in deep into injury time to keep Poland level on points with Group E leaders Montenegro, 1-0 winners in Denmark.

Goalless between Romania and Kazakhstan

Romania are two points off the pace following a 0-0 draw with Kazakhstan in Astana.