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.
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 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."
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.
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.