England were booed off at halftime against Andorra before grinding out a 2-0 victory as Europe's 2010 World Cup qualifiers began in earnest on Saturday.
England's Fabio Capello was among several high-profile coaches looking for a win in their first competitive game in charge, along with fellow Italian Giovanni Trapattoni and Vicente del Bosque.
Trapattoni enjoyed a victorious start with Ireland, who edged Georgia 2-1 in a match played in neutral Germany because of Georgia's recent conflict with Russia.
Former Real Madrid coach Del Bosque, who succeeded Luis Aragones as Spain's coach after their victory at Euro 2008, leads the world number ones against Bosnia later.
England's millionaire players took on the part-timers of Andorra in a Group Six mis-match in Barcelona.
England have looked pedestrian in friendlies under Capello and a tedious first half, in which they failed to break down Andorra's massed defence, evoked memories of his predecessor Steve McClaren's ill-fated attempt to qualify for Euro 2008.
Capello's blushes were spared by two goals from substitute Joe Cole early in the second half as England at least posted a victory before Wednesday's clash against Croatia.
Elsewhere, Euro 2008 semi-finalists Turkey beat Armenia 2-0 in Group Five, but there were disappointing starts for Romania, Poland and Sweden, all of whom played at Euro 2008.
Romania were humbled 3-0 at home by Lithuania in Group Seven, Sweden were held 0-0 by Albania in Tirana in Group One and Poland drew 1-1 at home to Slovenia in Group Three.
Andriy Shevchenko scored a last-minute penalty to give Ukraine, who qualified for the finals for the first time in Germany two years ago, a 1-0 victory over Belarus in Group Six.
Europe's 53 teams are chasing 13 of the 32 final berths in South Africa with the nine group winners qualifying directly along with four runners-up who come through a playoff round.
World champions Italy, Germany and France, along with European champions Spain, were all in action later.