Germany's Mats Hummels applauds his side's supporters after the World Cup Group C qualifying soccer match between Northern Ireland and Germany at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Germany's Mats Hummels applauds his side's supporters after the World Cup Group C qualifying football match between Northern Ireland and Germany at Windsor Park in Belfast. Peter Morrison/ AP Photo

Football: Germany, England qualify for 2018 World Cup



Defending champions Germany clinched a place at next year's World Cup in Russia with a 3-1 win in Northern Ireland on Thursday, while England beat Slovenia 1-0 to secure their finals berth.

Sebastian Rudy and Sandro Wagner struck brilliant first-half goals in Belfast before Joshua Kimmich added a late third as Joachim Loew's team made it nine wins out of nine in European qualifying Group C.

The four-time world champions also maintained their proud unbeaten away record in World Cup qualifiers -- a run spanning an incredible 47 matches dating back to 1934.

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Northern Ireland, who grabbed a consolation through Josh Magennis, remain on track to claim a spot in next month's play-offs as they attempt to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

Harry Kane continued his stunning goalscoring form with a 94th-minute winner as an unimpressive England overcame Slovenia at Wembley.

Gareth Southgate's side looked utterly bereft of ideas until skipper Kane converted Kyle Walker's inviting cross to score his 14th goal in nine games for club and country.

It is the sixth time in succession England have qualified for the World Cup, but after making such heavy work of defeating Slovenia, they are unlikely to give the game's super-powers many sleepless nights.

Scotland kept alive their hopes of reaching the finals for the first time since 1998 after a last-gasp 1-0 victory at home to Slovakia.

Martin Skrtel's own goal, just a minute from the end of normal time in Glasgow, leaves Scotland second in Group F, two points ahead of Slovakia and three in front of Slovenia ahead of Sunday's trip to Ljubljana.

Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick to become his country's record goalscorer as Poland thrashed Armenia 6-1 in Yerevan.

Poland, who finished third at the 1974 and 1982 World Cups, need a point from their final match at home to Group E rivals Montenegro to assure themselves of a place in the finals.

After Kamil Grosicki's second-minute opener, Lewandowski curled in a brilliant free-kick to draw level with Wlodzimierz Lubanski, who represented Poland from 1963 to 1980, on 48 international goals.

The Bayern Munich star claimed the outright record when he blasted home an indirect free-kick and completed his treble in the second half as Jakub Blaszczykowski and Rafal Wolski also scored for the visitors.

Lewandowski also broke a European record set in August by Cristiano Ronaldo by increasing his tally in 2018 World Cup qualifiers to 15 goals, one more than the Portugal captain.

Ronaldo is level with former Yugoslavia forward Predrag Mijatovic, who scored 14 goals during qualifying for the 1998 World Cup, but could establish a new mark on Saturday when Portugal visit lowly Andorra.

Christian Eriksen's 16th-minute goal steered Denmark to a 1-0 win in Montenegro to maintain their hopes of overhauling a three-point deficit to Poland when they host Romania in their final qualifier.

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When he debuted against Bangladesh aged 16 years and 314 days, he became the youngest ever to play for the men’s senior team. He broke the record set by his World Cup squad-mate, Alishan Sharafu, of 17 years and 44 days.

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Aayan does not turn 17 until November 15 – which is two days after the T20 World Cup final at the MCG. If he does play in the competition, he will be its youngest ever player. Pakistan’s Mohammed Amir, who was 17 years and 55 days when he played in 2009, currently holds the record.

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