England, Germany, and holders Spain dominated in match-day three of FIFA World Cup 2014 qualification, emphatically defeating San Marino, Ireland, and Belarus, respectively.
Stand-in captain Wayne Rooney and his Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck bagged a brace each while Arsenal starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added the icing on the cake in the Lions’ 5-0 win at Wembley.
The Spaniards won with similar ease in Minsk, as Barcelona’s summer signing Jordi Alba opened the scoring before his club teammate added a hat-trick.
Perhaps the performance of the day, however, came in Dublin as the Germans cruised to a 6-1 win over the Irish that not only demoralized the home side, but also sent a strong statement to the rest of Europe.
Marco Reus and Toni Kroos scored a pair each while Mesut Ozil and Miroslav Klose were also on target in a rout that featured a late consolation strike from Andy Keogh.
Joachim Low’s men fell short of European glory this summer but with tonight’s resounding win over a previously confident Ireland side, they have once again re-established themselves as legitimate contenders for Brazil 2014.
In this evening’s all-British contest between Wales and Scotland, Gareth Bale’s late brace proved to be the difference-maker, handing the hosts a 2-1 win despite James Morrison’s early goal.
Lastly, Euro 2012′s beaten finalists Italy won 3-1 in Armenia and in Russia, Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal finished second-best as Alexander Kerzakhov’s early strike was enough for the hosts to claim a 1-0 win.