Geneva: Denmark added to the most perfect campaign in World Cup qualifying on Saturday and England also eased toward winning their group.
Wins for Scotland, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine moved each closer to at least a place in the play-offs next year with the finals tournament in Qatar in sight.
Cristiano Ronaldo did not even play in Saturday’s World Cup programme yet still set one men’s international soccer record and extended another playing against the 2022 tournament host.
In his European record 181st game for Portugal - breaking a tie with his former Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos’s mark for Spain - Ronaldo score his 112th goal to stretch his men’s world record.
Here’s a look at the action from six of the 10 European qualifying groups in action Saturday:
Denmark has put together perhaps the world’s best series of qualifying results as the runaway group leader while Scotland and Israel served up the most dramatic game Saturday.
The Danes’ 4-0 win at Moldova was a seventh straight win with no goals conceded and ariti European-best 26 goals scored.
One day after he made the Ballon d’Or nomination list, defender and captain Simon Kjfr’s goal from the penalty spot was one of four in 21 first-half minutes in Chiinau. Denmark can seal its place in Qatar by beating Austria on Tuesday in Copenhagen.
Scotland beat visiting Israel 3-2 in a tense game with control of second place in the group - and a playoffs berth in March - at stake.
England cruised to yet another rout, 5-0 at Andorra, though is still only four points clear of surprise second-place Albania.
Five different players scored against the 156th-ranked Andorrans: Ben Chilwell and Bukayo Saka in the first half and Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prowse and Jack Grealish in the second.
The match was handled by an all-woman team of match officials, led by Ukrainian referee Kateryna Monzul, one day after a fire damaged one of the stands at the tiny Estadi Nacional.
While Italy is hosting the Nations League Finals this week, Switzerland closed the gap to three points beating Northern Ireland 2-0. The Irish came to Geneva with hopes of putting pressure on the Swiss but the game swung against them when defender Jamal Lewis was sent off in the 37th.
Switzerland can draw level with Italy on Tuesday by winning in Lithuania, and needs a big win.
The key game is November 12 when Italy hosts Switzerland. A draw could even suit the Italians whose goal difference is currently six better than the Swiss who missed many scoring chances Saturday.
Serbia edged into top spot winning 1-0 in Luxembourg to go one point clear of Portugal having played a game more.
Ireland won 3-0 at Azerbaijan, and in a five-nation group where the odd team out plays Qatar in a friendly, Portugal took its turn. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the first half of a 3-0 win.
The likely group decider will be Portugal hosting Serbia on November 14.
Sweden forward Alexander Isak scored a contender for best goal Saturday in a 3-0 home win over Kosovo.
The Real Sociedad striker collected a pass on the left wing, put the ball through the legs of a challenger, then shot into the top corner from 25 meters (yards).
In the group led by France, Ukraine took control of second place with a first win, 2-1 at Finland, after five straight draws. Bosnia-Herzegovina stayed in contention with a first competitive win since November 2019, 2-0 at Kazakhstan.