World Cup round-up: Wins for Germany and Denmark; Poland held
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 05/09/16 3:42pm
Reigning champions Germany kicked off their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup in impressive fashion as they cruised to a 3-0 win over Norway.
Thomas Muller was on target twice while Joshua Kimmich's first goal for his country crowned an emphatic start to qualifying, as the Germans immediately took their place at the top of Group C.
Muller opened the scoring with a second bite of the cherry on 15 minutes after his first shot was blocked and became the provider for Kimmich's first goal for his country, his shot evading the lunges of two Norway players and nestling into the far corner of Rune Jarstein's goal.
Muller added a third on the hour mark, heading in Sami Khedira's cross for his 34th goal for his country and allowing Germany to take it easy for the final half hour.
Manuel Neuer captained his country for the first time since being named their new captain following Bastian Schweinsteiger's retirement from international football, but had little to do on a comfortable night.
Also in Group C, Northern Ireland earned a 0-0 draw with Czech Republic and Ruslan Gurbanov's goal just before half-time saw Azerbaijan get their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory over 10-man San Marino.
San Marino had Cristian Brolli sent off in the 52nd minute following a crunching tackle on Gurbanov.
Denmark got their Group E campaign off to a winning start thanks to Christian Eriksen's first-half strike against Armenia in Copenhagen.
Denmark dominated the game and would have won by more were it not for goalkeeper Arsen Beglaryan, who kept out a 72nd-minute Eriksen penalty.
Elsewhere in that group, Kazakhstan fought back to earn a 2-2 draw with Poland in Astana.
Leicester summer signing Bartosz Kapustka put Poland ahead after nine minutes and Robert Lewandowski extended the lead with a 35th-minute penalty.
The game would probably have been beyond the hosts had Arkadiusz Milik's shot gone in, rather than hitting a post, just before half-time but Kazakhstan made the most of their good fortune with two quick-fire goals from Sergei Khizhnichenko early in the second half.
Late drama in Romania saw Stevan Jovetic's 87th-minute header for Montenegro cancel out Adrian Popa's goal for the hosts just two minutes previously.
But the excitement wasn't over there, as Nicolae Stanciu put a penalty over the crossbar in the seventh minute of injury time.
In Group F, a late Slovenia fightback earned them a 2-2 draw away to Lithuania to begin their World Cup qualification campaign.
Lithuania's goals came in the space of three first-half minutes, the first a stunning Fedor Cernych effort before Vykintas Slivka added a second.
Bostjan Cesar headed the equaliser in the third minute of injury-time after Rene Krhin had started the comeback from 2-0 down with 77 minutes on the clock.
Scotland top that group after a 5-1 win over Malta, ahead of England who beat Slovakia 1-0 thanks to a late Adam Lallana goal.