England made it nine wins from nine in a routine victory over Estonia, whilst Switzerland will also join them at Euro 2016 as qualifiers from Group E.
Roy Hodgson’s side had already booked their place in the Finals in France next year, and have now set about doing so in style by winning all 10 of their qualifying matches. Arsenal’s Theo Walcott fired them ahead in the dying stages of the first half against the Estonians at Wembley, and the victory was sealed when Raheem Sterling, of Manchester City, added a second on 85.
But it was Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, winning his 16th cap at the age of just 21, who earned the Man of the Match plaudits. After the match, Hodgson said: “We saw what he can do today. At Everton, he plays in a role that is deep-lying centre-forward or a number 10. He’s capable of doing that, but we think he’s got more strings to his bow. That shows the faith I have in him.”
Switzerland will join England in France next summer after clinching second place in the group with a 7-0 win over whipping boys San Marino, who have collected just one point from nine fixtures. The Swiss scored six times in the second half to make up for a lacklustre first period, and they are now five points ahead of third-placed Slovenia who drew 1-1 at home to Lithuania.
Reigning European champions Spain secured top spot in Group C with a convincing 4-0 win over Luxembourg, although it came at a cost as David Silva, the Manchester City midfielder, was forced off after just 10 minutes. Ukraine and Slovakia remain deadlocked for second place, after the latter blew their chance to seal automatic qualification when they lost at home to Belarus.
This gave the Ukrainians the opportunity to drew level in second place by beating Macedonia 2-0, although they remain in third place due to an inferior head-to-head against the Slovakians. They must face the Spanish in their final group game on Monday, so their rivals will fancy their chances of automatic qualification as they travel to Luxembourg.
Austria, who won 3-2 in Montenegro, have already wrapped up Group G, but who joins them in automatic qualification will go to the wire. Sweden beat Liechtenstein 3-2 to secure at least a playoff spot, but they remain third in the table behind Russia who won 2-1 in Moldova. They need just a point at home to the Montenegrins on Monday to book their passage to France.