Germany have became the first country to seal qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with a 4-0 win away to North Macedonia.
The fifth victory in five matches under new coach Hansi Flick, matching the record of predecessor Joachim Loew, has given Germany an unassailable lead at the top of Group J – as Armenia lost 1-0 to Romania.
All group winners automatically qualify for the tournament in Qatar while the second-placed finishers advance to the playoffs.
Germany dominated throughout against the side that inflicted only a third-ever World Cup qualifying defeat against them at home in March but needed until the second-half to make the breakthrough.
Kai Havertz tapped into an empty net to cap a fine counter-attack in the 50th minute to break the North Macedonian resistance.
The lively Timo Werner then smashed a quick-fire brace before teenager Jamal Musiala completed the rout to become Germany’s second youngest goalscorer, aged 18 years and 227 days.
Germany have 21 points from eight games before concluding the campaign in November at home to Liechtenstein – who were thumped 4-0 by Iceland – and away to Armenia, who are now fourth on 12 points.
Romania, on 13, are best-placed to secure second and the play-off spot but North Macedonia, above Armenia on goal difference, are also in contention.
Belgium must wait to confirm their place at the finals after Wales maintained their chance of automatic qualification with a 1-0 win at Estonia.
Kieffer Moore struck the only goal for Wales, who are third in Group E, five points behind Belgium – who will expect to secure qualification at home to Estonia next time out.
The Czech Republic, who won 2-0 in Belarus, are ahead of Wales on goal difference but having played a game more cannot catch Belgium.
In Group H, Russia and Croatia confirmed they will finish in the top two with the only question for November who qualifies automatically and who enters the play-off.
Andrej Kramaric and Luka Modric twice levelled for Croatia in a 2-2 home draw with Slovakia while group leaders Russia won 2-1 in Slovenia.
Russia are top by two points but, after both have winnable games to resume in November, visit Croatia to conclude the group.
Malta scored deep into stoppage time to earn a point in a 2-2 draw with Cyprus.
The Netherlands thrashed Gibraltar 6-0 in Group G with Norway two points behind the leaders after beating Montenegro 2-0.
Turkey, 2-1 come-from-behind winners in Latvia, are two points further back with two games to play – against Gibraltar and Montenegro – while Norway visit the Netherlands in the final round.
Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk scored the opener against Gibraltar before a Memphis Depay double and second-half strikes from Denzel Dumfries, Arnaut Danjuma and Donyell Malan.