World champions Spain began their qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup finals with a 1-0 win at Georgia, while most of Europe’s other top sides also picked up victories.
Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Portugal all won, but England had to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to Ukraine thanks to a late Frank Lampard penalty, while also having Steven Gerrard sent off.
Russia thrashed Israel 4-0 for a second successive qualifying win under Italian coach Fabio Capello, while Greece, Switzerland, Romania and Bosnia-Herzegovina were also teams with victories for maximum points after two games in the European qualifiers.
Spain needed a late winner from Roberto Soldado to win 1-0 at Georgia in a one-sided group I game.
Soldado, making a rare start for the world and European champions, struck four minutes from time to break the deadlock in Tbilisi.
“The game was very much as we expected, with them defending with a lot of players,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said.
“A draw would have been a setback for us...I’m very pleased with this result.”
France top the group after a second straight win, overcoming Belarus 3-1 at the Stade de France, Paris.
All the goals came in the second half, with Etienne Capoue, Christophe Jallet and Franck Ribery on target for Les Bleus, while Anton Putilo scored in the 72nd minute for the visitors.
Germany secured their second 2014 World Cup qualifying victory from as many games with a 2-1 win over Austria in Vienna.
Marco Reus and Mesut Oezil with a penalty scored the goals for the three-time world champions.
Germany head the group with six points from their two matches, while Sweden, who beat Kazakhstan 2-0, and Ireland both have three points after playing one game.
Losing Euro 2012 finalists Italy laboured in Modena to beat rank outsiders Malta 2-0 in group B, with goals from Mattia Destro and Federico Peluso. Bulgaria earned a 1-0 win over Armenia in the group.
Portugal were 3-0 winners over Azerbaijain, courtesy of a 64th-minute goal from substitute Silvestra Varela just after coming off the bench and late strikes from Helder Postiga and Bruno Alves to move level on six points with Russia in the group, while Northern Ireland were held 1-1 by Luxembourg.
Montenegro went above England on goal difference at the top of group H with a 6-0 win at San Marino, while Poland chalked up a 2-0 victory over Moldova in the group.
Ukraine looked like becoming the first team to beat England in a home qualifier for five years as they led with three minutes remaining thanks to Yevhen Konoplyanka’s 38th-minute strike.
Lampard, however, made sure from the spot to salvage a point.
“At the start of the game you obviously want to win it, but when you consider the circumstance, we had a goal disallowed, hit the post, we were pushing for the goal, so in the end we showed great character to get that point,” Lampard said.
The Netherlands swept to a 4-1 victory over Hungary in Budapest in group D, while Romania downed Andorra 4-0 for a second successive win to top the group ahead of the Dutch on goal difference and Turkey were good for a 3-0 win over Estonia in Istanbul.
Switzerland posted a second straight win in group E by downing Albania 2-0 in Lucerne, while in Larnaca, Cyprus beat Iceland 1-0 thanks to a 57th-minute winner from Constantinos Makridis for their first qualifying points.
The visitors finished the match with 10 men after a red card to Solvi Ottesen three minutes from time.
A stoppage-time penalty from John Arne Riise gave Norway a 2-1 win over Slovenia in Oslo in the group.
Bosnia-Herzegovina came from a goal down to beat Latvia 4-1 for a second straight win in group G, taking their goal tally to 12 in two games following the 8-1 victory over Liechtenstein.
Sotiris Ninis and Kostas Mitroglou scored second-half goals as Greece defeated Lithuania 2-0 for maximum points, while Slovakia beat Liechtenstein 2-0 in the group.
In group A, Belgium and Croatia ended 1-1, as did Scotland and Macedonia, while Serbia trounced Wales 6-1.