England and Germany clinched first place in their groups, while Poland inched toward a berth thanks to Robert Lewandowski's hat trick.

By 90Min
October 05, 2017

The penultimate round of World Cup qualifiers commenced on Thursday, with several teams booking their place in next summer's tournament in Russia.

The early kickoffs saw Poland move within one point of qualifying after steamrolling Armenia 6-1 courtesy of Robert Lewandowski. 

The Bayern Munich striker became Poland's all-time record goalscorer, after bagging his 48th, 49th and 50th goal for the national team in just 90 games. 

Meanwhile in Group C, Germany sealed their place for Russia next year with a convincing 3-1 away to Northern Ireland, with Sebastian Rudy, Sandro Wagner and Joshua Kimmich scoring for the world champions on a night where Germany's youth was very much on display. 

In the same group, Norway dismantled San Marino, eventually winning 8-0. Northern Ireland despite defeat are guaranteed second place, but will have to proceed via the playoffs if they want to make it to the finals now.

Over in Group F, England trudged their way to qualification in what can be politely termed a cagey affair at Wembley against Slovenia, running out eventual winners courtesy of 94th minute goal from new captain Harry Kane. 

The other home nation to feature on Thursday night, Scotland, kept their own hopes of qualification alive after former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel's 89th minute own goal handed the Scots the win over Slovakia.

Gordon Strachan's side now sit second, two points ahead of third place and maintain the possibility of making a tournament for the first time since 1998.

Group E saw Denmark grab a crucial victory over Montenegro thanks to an early strike from Spurs star Christian Eriksen. The result has given the Danes hope of qualification, but Poland still sit top of the group after their impressive 6-1 victory. 

Montenegro and Denmark are likely to be battling for the playoff place heading into the final qualifier.

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