England made it a perfect ten wins from ten matches in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign following a comfortable win over Lithuania in Vilnius.
Such is the ease in which Roy Hodgson’s side clinched their place in France, many of their matches have taken on an atmosphere similar to that associated with friendly matches. But few would have been brave enough to predict England would win all of their matches in Group E, particularly off the back of a World Cup Finals in which they failed to progress through the group stage.
But the Euro 96 semi-finalists made it a perfect 10 on Monday night, when they eased to victory over Lithuania in Vilnius. Ross Barkley put the visitors ahead on the 3G pitch, and Harry Kane doubled the lead before the half-time whistle. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain completed the scoring when he bagged the third in the second half, rounding off a comfortable evening.
Switzerland, who many had expected to fight England all the way for the leadership of the group, qualify for the Finals as runners-up, and ended their campaign with a narrow 1-0 win in Estonia. Slovenia still have hopes of booking their place in France next summer, but their 3-0 win in San Marino will be considered shooting practice ahead of a two-legged playoff next month.
The only time Austria had ever appeared in the European Championships was when they co-hosted the tournament with Poland in 2008, but they have been one of the standout teams of the qualifiers this time round to top Group G. Their final fixture was a 3-0 win over Liechtenstein, meaning Marcel Koller’s side head to France next summer having won nine of their 10 fixtures.
Russia will join the Austrians after securing second spot with a 2-0 home win over Montenegro, delivered courtesy of goals from Oleg Kuzmin and Aleksandr Kokorin. This result consigns Sweden to a third place finish and a playoff spot, despite goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Erkan Zengin ensuring they ended their campaign with a 2-0 win over bottom-placed Moldova.
Ukraine knew they had to get a result against Spain if they were to stand a chance of finishing second behind the reigning European champions, but it wasn’t to be as a Mario Gaspar goal was enough to give the visitors the lead and therefore condemning the home side to the playoffs. Slovakia finish Group C in second spot, after Marek Hamsik scored twice in a 4-2 win in Luxembourg.