Southgate starts England reign with win
Gareth Southgate's plea for England to play with adventure and style was answered only fitfully as his reign as caretaker manager began with a 2-0 win over Malta in a World Cup Group F qualifier on Saturday.
It took half an hour for the former England defender's selection to break down a stubborn rearguard but thanks to first-half goals from Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli they did go some way to meeting Southgate's demands.
However, in the first outing since Sam Allardyce's embarrassing departure as manager after one match and 67 days in charge, the victory that gave England maximum points at the top of the group brought only the odd smile to a Wembley full house of 81,781.
Southgate, who has four games to secure the job full-time, had a right to feel irritated that, despite completely outclassing a side ranked 176th in the world, his team did not have the wit to make their second-half domination count with a hatful of goals.
Starting with captain Wayne Rooney in midfield and giving a debut to Jesse Lingard, a former favourite when he was in charge of England's under-21 team, Southgate was hoping for sharper finishing.
In the first half there was a notable shift in tempo and intensity from the side that performed sluggishly in their one match under Allardyce.
Malta packed the defence and England initially lacked ideas, Rooney going closest with a curling shot well-saved at full stretch by London-born keeper Andrew Hogg.
Jordan Henderson then crossed deep after 29 minutes and Sturridge's well-placed header found the corner of the net.
England made it 2-0 when Henderson's surging run in the 38th minute resulted in the ball falling to Alli who scored at the second attempt.
Malta remained content to let England huff and puff after the break and, apart from one free kick from Rooney and a close-range attempt by Theo Walcott that were well saved, the fans had little to cheer.
Mueller grabs another double in easy Germany win
Thomas Mueller scored twice for the second World Cup qualifier in a row to lead dominant Germany to a comprehensive 3-0 win over Czech Republic on Saturday.
Toni Kroos was also on target to leave the world champions on six points from two games in Group C, alongside Azerbaijan after they beat Norway 1-0 in Baku with an early goal by Maksim Medvedev, and firmly on course for the finals in Russia in 2018.
The Czechs, who have one point, won 3-0 on their last visit to Germany in 2007 in the early days of coach Joachim Loew's long reign but never threatened a repeat.
"I'm very satisfied, we had control of the game for the whole time," said Loew.
"We built up our moves very well from the back. We put together some great combinations and didn't give our opponents any chance."
Germany broke the deadlock after 13 minutes when Mario Goetze burst down the left, his pass into the area was touched on by Mesut Ozil and Mueller scored with a shot which took a slight deflection off a defender.
Germany, who beat Norway by the same score in their opening qualifier last month, continued to carve open the Czech defence with neat interchanges between Mueller, Ozil, Julian Draxler and Goetze who was playing as a false number nine.
Draxler pinged a shot just wide after Goetze pulled the ball back to him, Mueller saw a low drive turned away by Czech goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik, then Goetze dinked the ball wide after a one-two with Mueller.
Kroos doubled Germany's lead four minutes after the restart when he got in front of his marker and placed a sidefooted shot past Vaclik after Joshua Kimmich rolled the ball across the edge of the area.
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made his first save in the 63rd minute when he parried Borek Dockal's powerful effort and the home team struck again two minutes later, Mueller turning in Jonas Hector's low cross at the near post.
Lewandowski hat-trick helps Poland sink Denmark
A hat-trick by deadly finisher Robert Lewandowski lifted Poland to a 3-2 victory over Denmark in a thrilling World Cup Group E qualifier on Saturday.
A packed 56,000 crowd at the National Stadium in Warsaw saw the home team go in front in the 20th minute when Kamil Grosicki delivered a cross and Lewandowski scored from close range.
Poland kept attacking, mainly down the wings, and Lewandowski made it 2-0 with a penalty nine minutes before halftime.
Full back Jannik Vestergaard brought down Arek Milik six metres out and Lewandowski sent keeper Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way from the spot.
The Bayern Munich marksman's third goal came at the start of the second half when he pounced on an error by Vestergaard and powered half the length of the field before slotting the ball beyond Schmeichel.
Denmark pulled one back in the 49th minute as Poland's Kamil Glik turned the ball past his own keeper, Lukasz Fabianski.
The visitors then suddenly started to dominate possession and it was no surprise when lively substitute Yussuf Poulsen netted in the 69th minute.
However, with playmaker Christian Eriksen tightly marked by Poland's defenders, Denmark were unable to draw level.
Poland are joint top of the group, alongside Montenegro and Romania, with four points from two matches. The Danes are fourth on three points.
Lewandowski has now scored hat-tricks in three competitions this season, having also landed a treble in the Bundesliga and German Cup.
He has netted in each of his last seven World Cup/European Championship qualifiers, bagging 11 goals in total in those matches.