Germany slams six past Ireland in Dublin
Marco Reus scored two first-half goals and Germany poured in four more after the break to sweep aside Ireland 6-1 on Friday in a World Cup qualifier.
The Borussia Dortmund winger put the visitors in control by scoring in the 32nd and 40th minutes to silence the crowd at Dublin's sold-out Aviva Stadium.
Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, marked being handed the temporary England captaincy by scoring twice in a routine 5-0 win over San Marino, taking his goal total in international matches to 31, fifth on the country's all-time list.
But the Netherlands will be disappointed not to have scored more in a comfortable 3-0 win over Andorra, which is 201st in the rankings.
However, Euro 2012 semifinalist Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, couldn't make the most of its dominance against Russia and lost 1-0 in a match between the top two teams in Group F.
The Portuguese are three points behind Russia, which is unbeaten under new coach Fabio Capello and has three straight wins in qualifying.
Germany turned its game into a rout in the second half, with Toni Kroos also scoring twice. Andy Keogh's injury-time header from a corner provided Ireland's lone score.
Ireland was without a half-dozen injured starters including striker Robbie Keane, and barely tested goalkeeper Manuel Neuer as it struggled for possession against the faster, better-organized Germans.
Miroslav Klose's 58th-minute strike was his 65th for Germany, leaving him three behind record-holder Gerd Mueller on the all-time list.
The lopsided loss heaped pressure on Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, who has faced rising criticism following his squad's wretched performance at the European Championship this summer.
The win put Germany atop Group C with nine points from three matches. Ireland remained third.
In Rotterdam, the Netherlands outclassed Andorra to make it three wins in the three qualifiers at De Kuip Stadion.
The Oranje were off and running in the seventh minute when Rafael van der Vaart hammered home from long range and although a possible landslide did not materialize there were further goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and debutant Ruben Schaken, while Ron Vlaar and Jeremain Lens both hit the woodwork.
Also, Belgium enhanced its burgeoning reputation as a growing force in European football with a 3-0 win in Serbia, which lost a home World Cup qualifier for the first time in more than 10 years.
Sweden and Czech Republic needed second-half revivals to avoid embarrassing draws against minnows, beating Faeroe Islands 2-1 and Malta 3-1, respectively.
The victory for the Swedes left them second in Group C, three points behind Germany ahead of their meeting in Berlin on Tuesday when the hosts will start as heavy favourites following an emphatic win over Ireland.
Rooney was playing for England for the first time since Euro 2012 and was given the armband with Steven Gerrard missing through suspension and vice captain Frank Lampard sidelined with injury. Rooney marked the occasion by joining Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck in scoring a brace at Wembley Stadium.
"To be in England's top five goalscorers, I'm extremely proud," Rooney said. "But I'm only 26 and I hope I can score a lot more."
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also scored for the hosts, who moved to the top of Group H above Montenegro and Poland.
It wasn't such a good night for Oxlade-Chamberlain's Arsenal teammate, Theo Walcott, who will spend the night in hospital after colliding with goalkeeper Aldo Junior Simoncini early in the game.
Russia's winner against Portugal came with its only shot on goal in the first half, Alexander Kerzhakov scoring in the sixth minute, and the team held on to take charge of the group.
Ronaldo, who has scored six times in his last three Spanish league games for Real Madrid, barely had a sniff in Moscow.
"Maybe we weren't as calm as we usually are," said Portugal coach Paulo Bento, whose team is the only leading European nation not to be top of its group at this stage.
Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.