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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Germany maintain perfect campaign, Jermain Defoe strikes in England win

Germany survived a first-half wobble to defeat Azerbaijan 4-1 and maintain their 100 percent record in World Cup qualifying.

It seemed to be plain sailing for the 2014 winners when Andre Schurrle put the visitors ahead on 19 minutes, meeting Jonas Hector's pass to hit home, but Azerbaijan were soon back in it.

Dimitrij Nazarov's right-footed effort beat Bernd Leno to surprise the Group C heavyweights, but parity did not last long.

Schurrle found Thomas Muller and the Bayern Munich ace hit a left-footed effort to put Germany back in front. Just before half time, Joshua Kimmich found Mario Gomez, whose header gave Germany breathing space.

Borussia Dortmund's Schurrle then notched his second of the game with nine minutes to go, Hector again the man with the assist as Joachim Low's men strolled to victory.

Jermain Defoe scored in his first international appearance in over three years as England beat Lithuania 2-0 at Wembley to make it four wins out of five in Group F.

Defoe, winning his first cap since November 2013, scored with a close-range finish in the first half before Jamie Vardy grabbed another off the bench in the second to make sure of the three points and consolidate England's place at the top of their group.

Just a few seconds after Defoe had seen an effort saved by Ernestas Setkus in the 21st minute, the Sunderland man was then presented with another opportunity, on this occasion finishing first time into the back of the net to score his 20th England goal after Raheem Sterling had done well to burst down the left before cutting the ball back.

Defoe was replaced by Vardy shortly before the hour mark, and just eight minutes later the Leicester striker doubled England's lead, slotting past Ernestas Setkus after Adam Lallana had slipped him in on goal.

Czech Republic thrashed San Marino 6-0 to keep up their challenge behind Germany in Group C.

Victory was pretty much sewn up in the space of seven minutes midway through the first half. First, Antonin Barak struck left-footed into the corner on 17 minutes after good work by Theodor Gebre Selassie and two minutes later, Barak turned provider for Vladimir Darida. Barak then grabbed his second of the match on 24 minutes, meeting Ladislav Krejci's pass to fire high into the net.

Gebre Selassie made it 4-0 before the half-hour mark and Michal Krmencik added another just before the break. Darida's second half penalty completed the rout.

Northern Ireland reached the double-figure mark in World Cup qualification points and retained second spot in Group C with a pair of first-half goals against Norway.

A 2-0 victory moved Michael O'Neill's playoff seeking side on to 10 points at the halfway stage and extended their unbeaten run at Windsor Park to eight competitive games.

Jamie Ward's goal after 87 seconds set them on their way and QPR's Conor Washington fired in a third international goal, all of which have come in his three Belfast starts, in the 32nd minute.

O'Neill had stressed the 10-point landmark was key in terms of his squad's mindset towards possibly reaching Russia and they now head to Azerbaijan in the summer knowing a playoff berth remains very much on the cards.

Chris Martin, left, celebrates after scoring a dramatic winner for Scotland against Slovenia.
Chris Martin celebrates after scoring an 88th minute winner to lead Scotland past Slovenia.

Scotland's ailing World Cup qualifying hopes were given a late and much-needed boost when substitute Chris Martin scored a dramatic 88th-minute winner which sealed a 1-0 win over Slovenia at Hampden Park.

Defender Russell Martin had the ball in the net early in the first half only to be punished for an infringement before striker Leigh Griffiths twice hit the woodwork.

Time seemed to be running out for Gordon Strachan's side but with two minutes remaining Martin -- on for James Morrison -- took a Stuart Armstrong pass and fired a low drive past goalkeeper Jan Oblak and in at the far post.

It took Scotland on to seven points from five fixtures at the the halfway stage of the campaign and into fourth place, two points behind second-placed Slovakia, ahead of the visit of Group F leaders England in June.

Slovakia won 3-1 in Malta, whose Jean Paul Farrugia cancelled out Vladimir Weiss' second-minute opener, but Slovakia regained the lead through Jan Gregus and Adam Nemec added a late third before he was shown a straight red card for his foul on Zach Muscat.

Poland extended their lead at the top of Group E to six points after a 2-1 win against closest rivals Montenegro in Podgorica.

Robert Lewandowski's free kick gave Poland the lead five minutes before the interval and although Stefan Mugosa equalised after the break, Lukasz Piszczek's late winner secured his unbeaten side their fourth group win.

Montenegro still lie second, while Denmark and Romania remain third and fourth, respectively, following their goalless draw in Cluj.

In Group E's early match, Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored as Armenia beat 10-man Kazakhstan 2-0. Sergiy Maliy saw red for a second bookable offence on 64 minutes before Mkhitaryan put Armenia ahead and Aras Ozbiliz made the game safe 15 minutes from time.

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