Harry Kane scored a hat-trick in the first half as England pushed for the 2022 World Cup, beating Albania 5-0, but Italy still has some work to do to reach Qatar after a 1-1 draw with Switzerland.
England still needs a point for math qualification when it visits San Marino on Monday, but it boasts a three point lead and a six goal lead over Poland, which secured at least a playoff spot with a 4 win : 1 over 10: man Andorra.
The Three Lions can look forward to Qatar’s future with confidence as they have stylishly regained form at Wembley, scoring all of their goals before half-time.
Harry Maguire kicked off a tough start to the season at club level behind him when the Manchester United captain opened the gate with a powerful header from Rhys James.
Kane struck Jordan Henderson home from close range before becoming Henderson’s supplier and quietly scoring his first international goal on home soil.
England were rampant in the first 45 minutes as Kane threw in a second shot from a narrow angle and then spectacularly finished his fourth international hat-trick with a scissor kick from Phil Foden’s corner.
European Champion Italy retained a slight lead over Switzerland at the top of Group C, but missed out on a great late-stage chance to nearly qualify when Jorginho shot a penalty over the crossbar.
The Chelsea midfielder has conceded six penalties for club and international since the start of last season.
The guests flew into the air in Rome when Sylvanas Widmer’s thunderous thump hit the top corner.
The Azzurri were leveled nine minutes before half-time thanks to a well-developed standard formation led by Giovanni Di Lorenzo.
Italy has a two-goal lead over the Swiss on goal difference ahead of Sunday’s finals.
Results: Group C: Northern Ireland 1 (Satkus 18-og) bt Lithuania 0; Italy 1 (Di Lorenzo 36) drew Switzerland 1 (Widmer 11).
Group F: Moldova 0 lost to Scotland 2 (Patterson 38, Adams 65); Denmark 3 (Skov Olsen 18, Bruun Larsen 63, Maehle 90 + 3) bt Faroe Islands 1 (Olsen 89); Austria 4 (Arnautovich 51-pen, Schaub 62, 72, Sabitzer 84) instead of Israel 2 (Bitton 33, Peretz 59).
Group I: Andorra 1 (Wales 45) lost to Poland 4 (Lewandowski 5, 73, Jozwiak 11, Milik 45 + 2); Hungary 4 (Szoboszlai 6, 83, Gazdag 22, Vecsei 88) bt San Marino 0; England 5 (Maguire 9, Kane 18, 33, 45 + 2 Henderson 28) – Albania 0…