World Cup qualifying wrap: Russia edge Portugal, Dutch stay unbeaten
Russia edged out Portugal in their 2014 World Cup qualifying clash as Romania's chances of heading to Brazil were also boosted on Friday.
At Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, Aleksandr Kerzhakov's early goal proved enough for Russia to consolidate top spot in Group F through a 1-0 win over Portugal.
Kerzhakov opened the scoring in the sixth minute but Fabio Capello's men had to weather a barrage of Portuguese goal-scoring opportunities to maintain their 100 percent start to the qualifying campaign.
Portugal had seven shots on target for the match, including a number of great opportunities from set-pieces, but could not find the net as Russia held on to win and move three points clear of the visitors at the top of the group.
In the other Group F match on Friday night, the previously last-placed Israel leapt straight into third on the table with a 6-0 hammering of Luxembourg that was powered by Tomer Hemad's hat-trick.
In Group D, Romania and the Netherlands maintained their perfect starts to qualification through victories over Turkey and Andorra respectively.
Rafael van der Vaart gave Netherlands the lead in the seventh minute as the Dutch side consolidated the 3-0 result through further goals to Klaas Jan-Huntelaar and Ruben Schaken.
But the group's major result of the night was Romania's 1-0 victory over Turkey on the road in Istanbul.
Although Turkey dominated possession early on, Romania gradually worked themselves into the contest and went ahead during first-half injury-time as Mihai Pintilli's incisive through-ball allowed Gheorge Grozav to score.
Turkey attacked heavily during the second half but failed to take anything from the encounter as Mevlut Erdinc missed a gilt-edged chance late in the encounter.
With Hungary beating Estonia 1-0 for their second victory in qualification, 2002 World Cup semi-finalists Turkey find themselves in fourth on the Group D table ahead of Tuesday's clash with the Hungarians.
In Group A, Belgium and Croatia continue to lead the way.
Both nations showed off their potential as World Cup dark horses, with Belgium being particularly impressive as they beat Serbia 3-0 at Belgrade's Red Star Stadium through goals to Christian Benteke, Kevin De Bruyne and Kevin Mirallas.
With seven points from three games, Belgium is on top of Group A on goal difference over Croatia, who proved too good for Macedonia in a come-from-behind 2-1 victory.
Serbia remain in third while Wales have climbed to fourth through a gutsy victory in Cardiff as a Gareth Bale double in the last 10 minutes saw the Welsh side come from behind to defeat Scotland 2-1.
Both teams were winless heading into this encounter, but the Scots appeared in the box seat to take the points after James Morrison gave them the lead in the 27th minute.
As both sides produced numerous attacks, Scotland were controversially denied a second goal after Steven Fletcher nodded the ball in, with the referees assistant ruling that Charlie Adam's cross had curled fractionally out of play, even though TV replays suggested it had not.
And Wales heaped more misery on the Scots as Bale levelled from the spot in the 81st minute before scoring the winner with a minute remaining.
In Group B, Italy continue to lead after a hard-fought 3-1 win over Armenia on the road. The Italians are now two points clear on top of the table after second-placed Bulgaria could only draw 1-1 with Denmark (fifth).
The Czech Republic have climbed above Armenia into fourth through a 3-1 victory over a stubborn Malta side.
In Group C, Germany emphasised their credentials as a genuine World Cup contender with a 6-1 slaughter of Ireland that could spell the end for Irish coach Giovanni Trapattoni.
Substitute Tony Kroos scored a brace for Germany as they trounced Trapattoni's side and gave more ammunition to the 73-year-old coach's growing list of critics.
Germany are now three points ahead of second-placed Sweden, who were forced to come from behind to secure a 2-1 win over the Faroe Islands, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic firing home a 75th-minute winner.
Despite their embarrassing loss, Ireland remain in third after Austria (fourth) and Kazakhstan (fifth) drew 0-0.
In Group E, Iceland have maintained their push for a World Cup place through their second qualification win in a 2-1 result over Albania that finds them just one point adrift of Switzerland, who drew 1-1 with Norway on Friday night.
Slovenia, though, remain in fifth position after their first qualification victory, as they beat Cyprus 2-1.
Group G saw Slovakia draw level with table-topping Bosnia via a 2-1 win over Latvia as the Bosnians were held to a goalless draw by Greece. The group's other game saw Lithuania record their first qualifying win with a 2-0 victory over Liechtenstein.
England have consolidated their hold on top spot of Group H thanks to a 5-0 victory over San Marino in a match that saw Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck both score doubles, while Moldova and Ukraine fought out a 0-0 draw.
And lastly in Group I, a hat-trick from Pedro helped Spain destroy Belarus 4-0 as Finland and Georgia fought out a 1-1 draw.