European football champions Spain continued to set the standard when they along with Italy, Germany and the Netherlands took a significant stride towards next year's World Cup finals.
Spain, FIFA's top-ranked team, beat Turkey 1-nil in Madrid to stretch their unbeaten run to 30 matches and make it 15 points out of 15 in Group Five before they travel to Istanbul for the return fixture this week.
Stuttering France earned a vital 1-nil victory in Lithuania to stay in touch in Group Seven, although they are struggling to keep pace with Serbia who produced the day's most impressive performance with a 3-2 win in Romania.
Northern Ireland went top of Group Three with a 3-2 home defeat of Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina crushed Belgium 4-2 away in Group Five. Switzerland are also well-placed after a 2-nil win in Moldova.
World champions Italy beat Montenegro 2-nil... Germany beat Liechtenstein 4-nil and the Netherlands beat Scotland 3-nil to stay in control of their respective groups.
England beat Slovakia 4-nil in a friendly at Wembley where former captain David Beckham notched his 109th cap for his country, taking him past the late Bobby Moore's appearance record for an outfield player.