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England open with a victory under new management, France win big in Paris

England got a much-needed win under their belts, and France came up with a big victory in the Stade de France after coming up short in the Euro 2016 final three months ago.

England 2-0 Malta

(Sturridge 29', Alli 38')

The post-Allardyce era got off to a positive start as England eased to an expected victory over European minnows Malta at Wembley Stadium.

England have been in turmoil since coach Sam Allardyce was relieved of his duties after a newspaper sting exposed improper conduct, with Gareth Southgate stepping into the role on an interim basis.

Their performance could be best described as functional, as Daniel Sturridge's excellent header set England on their way shortly before the half hour mark.

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson created both goals, and it was his surging run that allowed Dele Alli to double England's lead before the break, scoring on the rebound after his initial effort was saved.

 

France 4-1 Bulgaria
(Gameiro 23', 59', Payet 26', Griezmann 38' - Aleksandrov 6' pen)

France finally got their World Cup qualifying campaign going, beating Bulgaria in their first game in the Stade de France since their disappointing result in the European Championship final. Kevin Gameiro, who was making his first start in five years for France, scored twice as Les Bleus eased to their first group victory.

Mihail Aleksandrov gave Bulgaria an early lead from the penalty spot after Bacary Sagna took down Georgi Milanov in the box. France eventually found their feet though; Gameiro headed in the equalizer from a Moussa Sissoko cross and Dimitri Payet gave France the lead three minutes later on a looping shot from the left wing.

Antoine Griezmann, who received his Euro 2016 Player of the Tournament trophy before the game, increased France's lead before halftime when he picked off a pass from Dimitar Pirgov and fired in a goal from outside the box. Griezmann also picked out Gameiro's darting run at the far post in the second half before his Atletico Madrid teammate finished off his second goal of the game.  

The Netherlands matched their score line against Belarus, which means the France sit second in Group A to the Dutch after two games. The two teams will face off in Amsterdam on Monday.

Belgium 4-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina
(Spahic 26' O.G., Hazard 29', Alderweireld 60', Lukaku 79')

Beglium's No. 2 FIFA ranking may be controversial after their performance at the Euros, but the Red Devils justified the high placement with an impressive 4-0 win against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Emir Spahic provided Belgium with the opener after deflecting in a cross from Thomas Munier for an own goal. Edin Hazard doubled the lead three minutes later with his 15th international goal. Toby Alderweireld added a third on the hour mark after a neat flick from a corner and Romelu Lukaku capped the scoring with a great solo effort.

Belgium have now won their last six qualifying games and they currently lead Group H after two games.

Fifa WM Qualifikation Italien gegen Spanien (Getty Images/V. Pennicino)

Italy's Daniele De Rossi (far right) beat Spain's David De Gea (left) from the penalty spot to ensure Italy got a point

Italy 1-1 Spain
(De Rossi 82' pen - Machin Perez 55')

Italy maintained its excellent qualifying record for a major finals, snatching a draw against Spain in Turin. The Azzurri has never lost a home World Cup qualifier and it held group rivals Spain under new coach Giampiero Ventura.

Spain are also under new management with Julen Lopetegui succeeding Vicente del Bosque, who won two European Championships and a World Cup as coach. It's a tough act to follow and the Spanish is slowly working to piece together a new-look squad.

Gianluigi Buffon, who needs four more Azzurri caps to draw level with Iker Casillas as the most capped player in European football history, completely misjudged a through ball and Machin Perez pounced to score. "I can't do anything but say thanks to Gigi for what he does for Juventus and the national team. He is a superstar," defended teammate Leonardo Bonucci.

Despite Spain's dominance of possession, the Italians landed a sucker punch with 10 minutes left. German referee Felix Brych pointed to the spot after Eder was fouled by Sergio Ramos. Daniele De Rossi stepped up and cooly dispatched to keep both sides unbeaten at the top of group G.

WM-Qualispiel Österreich gegen Wales (Picture-Alliance/dpa/C. Bruna)

Real's Gareth Bale is marshaled well by Julian Baumgartlinger of Leverkusen

Austria 2-2 Wales
(Arnautovic 28', 48' - Allen 22', Wimmer 45' O.G.)

After an impressive European Championship, Chris Coleman's Wales started sprightly in the race to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Former Werder Bremen striker Marko Arnautovic, now at Stoke City, twice responded to deny the Welsh a winning position in the match.

Arnautovic cancelled out an early strike from Joe Allen in the first half, and equalized again three minutes after the break. Austria boss Marcel Koller said Wales were "lucky" to do well at Euro 2016.

"We were making trouble for ourselves and that's not like us. Normally we have a bit more authority in possession and we didn't do that tonight," the Welsh coach told reporters post-match. Coleman is likely to be without Allen and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey for the visit of Georgia on Sunday.

Kosovo 0-6 Croatia
(Mandzukic 6', 24', 35', Mitrovic 68', Perisic 83', Kalinic 90+2')

Croatia had little sympathy for Kosovo, who held its first competitive "home" match, but at a neutral venue. Even without Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, the Croats were far too strong for their opponents in Shkodra, Albania. Mario Mandzukic landed a hat trick inside 35 minutes, before Mitrovic, Perisic, Kalinic added to the goals in the second half. Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric lasted 71 minutes as Croatia lead the section.

Other results:

Ireland 1-0 Georgia

Turkey 2-2 Ukraine

Iceland 3-2 Finland

Moldova 0-3 Serbia

Liechenstein 0-2 Albania

Netherlands 4-1 Belarus

Luxembourg 0-1 Sweden

Hungary 2-3 Switzerland

Latvia 0-2 Faroe Islands

Portugal 6-0 Andorra

Belgium 4-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina

Greece 2-0 Cyprus

Estonia 4-0 Gibraltar

Azerbaijan 1-0 Norway

Armenia 0-5 Romania

Montenegro 5-0 Kazakhstan

Germany 3-0 Czech Republic

Northern Ireland 4-0 San Marino

Poland 3- Denmark

Scotland 1-1 Lithuania

Slovenia 1-0 Slovakia

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