PARIS, March 26, 2011 (AFP) - England and Germany took a big step towards Euro 2012 qualification on Saturday with routine wins over Wales and Kazakhstan respectively to take command of their groups.
After reigning world and European champions Spain, France, Holland and Italy had shown their continental rivals the way with victories on Friday - hard earned in the case of Spain as they came from behind to edge out the Czech Republic - the Three Lions and Die Mannschaft did not disappoint.
|Germany's striker Miroslav Klose waves after the match Germany vs Kazakhstan on March 26, 2011. Germany won the match 4-0. AFP|
Fabio Capello's England put their match with minnows Wales to bed within 15 minutes of the kickoff as Frank Lampard netted from the spot and Darren Bent doubled the advantage to secure a comfortable 2-0 victory at the Millennium Stadium and give the visitors command of Group G on goal difference from Montenegro.
"We played really well, we passed the ball quickly and created chances to score goals with no chances for Wales," said a delighted Capello.
"The goals that we scored were really nice and in every moment we were focused on the game which was important.
On the downside, a booking for Wayne Rooney means the striker will miss the next qualifier, against Switzerland at Wembley in June.
"It's not good news for us," Capello said, aware the job is not yet done.
Germany were no less dominant in seeing off hapless Kazakhstan as they made it five wins from five games to push their advantage over Belgium and Austria to a massive eight points, meaning Joachim Loew's side can as good as start reserving their tickets for Poland and Ukraine next summer.
Miroslav Klose slammed home two goals and Thomas Mueller added a brace of his own as the Germans, who join the Dutch in Group E and Spain in Group I as countries maintaining their 100 percent records, continue to dominate Group A.
"We know they weren't a great side although they were compact and defended pretty well but I'm pleased with my goals at the beginning and the end of the game," said Klose after the game in which he took his goal tally to 61 - just seven shy of the legendary Gerd Mueller's all-time German record.
Elsewhere Saturday, two-times champions France, having seen off Luxembourg on Friday, received a further boost when rivals Belarus - their shock opening-match conquerors - went down to the only goal in Albania, leaving Les Bleus with a four-point cushion in Group D.
Group B is developing into a pot boiler with previous leaders Russia held to a goalless draw in Armenia.
Those dropped points mean that Slovakia, 1-0 winners in Andorra, and the Republic of Ireland, 2-1 winners over Macedonia with Robbie Keane's 46th international goal the clincher, now join the Russians in a three-way tie on ten points at the top of the group.
Irish winger Damian Duff hailed his side's showing ahead of trips to come both to Russia and Macedonia.
"There are no easy games in Europe any more. It's a massive three points. We're there or thereabouts. We believe we can do it," Duff told Sky Sports.
Norway still lead Group H, meanhile, despite dropping their first points in a 1-1 home draw with 1992 champions Denmark, who are three points adrift along with 2004 finalists Portugal.