Germany and the Netherlands opened up big leads in their qualifying groups on a night when Spain overtook France with a win in Paris.
In the game of the day in Paris, Spain were keen to return to winning ways after recent draws and did just that, Pedro Rodríguez striking on 56 minutes against a France side who later had Paul Pogba sent off. The holders moved one point above Les Bleus in Group I and are now unbeaten in 50 World Cup qualifiers over 20 years.
England, hoping to climb ahead of Montenegro in Group H, led early in Podgorica through Wayne Rooney only for Dejan Damjanović to deservedly equalise and keep the home team two points clear. Poland and Ukraine both won to move within four points of England with a match in hand.
No such concerns for Germany who beat Kazakhstan 4-1 to go eight points clear, though they have played two games more than Sweden. The Netherlands have a seven-point cushion in Group D after defeating Romania 4-0 while Hungary, now in second outright, drew 1-1 in Turkey.
The Dutch maintain a perfect record, as do Russia, who did not play tonight. Russian’s advantage in Group F was cut to one point as Israel won 2-0 in Northern Ireland and Portugal prevailed by the same scoreline in Azerbaijan, though both challengers have had played two more games two than Russia.
Belgium, who beat Macedonia, and Croatia , 2-1 winners in Wales, remain locked at the top of Group A. Serbia are third but nine points adrift having beaten Scotland 2-0.
In the only other section in action, Italy’s Group B lead is up to three points after the Azzurri won 2-0 in Malta as Bulgaria drew 1-1 in Denmark.