Serge Gnabry marked his Germany debut with a hat-trick as Germany steamrolled past minnows San Marino 8-0 to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group C of the World Cup qualifiers.
The result leaves the world champions five points clear of second-placed Northern Ireland and they have yet to concede in any of their four matches in this campaign so far.
Gnabry became the first German international to score a hat-trick on his debut in 40 years since Dieter Muller in the Euro 1976 semi-final.
San Marino, who have not taken a point at home in the competition since 1993, extended that record following a blitz of goals from Sami Khedira, Gnabry (3), Jonas Hector (2), Kevin Volland and an own goal from Mattia Stefanelli in Serravalle.
The match was was over as a contest early on as Ilkay Gundogan carved the San Marino defence open after seven minutes with a lofted through ball which found Khedira in the area and he rounded goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini, calmly tapping in to give the visitors the lead.
Werder Bremen forward Gnabry notched his first two minutes later after the ball broke loose to him in the penalty area and he fired into the bottom corner, before left-back Hector got his first with a neat finish to put the 2014 World Cup winners 3-0 up at the break.
The San Marino defence managed to last 13 minutes after the restart without being breached, but Gnabry doubled his tally when he got on the end of a chipped pass by Joshua Kimmich to half-volley home from 10 yards out.
Hector soon followed suit by netting his second after Mario Gotze found him unmarked in the area before poking the ball through the legs of Simoncini for Germany’s fifth.
But former Arsenal man Gnabry – who joined Werder in a £5million deal in the summer – went one better to notch his treble when he was played through by Thomas Muller lifted pass to thunder in a volley from 12 yards in a carbon copy of his second and extend the Germans’ lead further.
Substitute Volland made his impact after bursting down the right wing and whipping in a driven cross which was parried out by Simoncini but it could only ricochet off Stefanelli and into his own net.
The Bayer Leverkusen forward did get on the scoresheet himself, however, latching onto Muller’s unselfish pass across goal and although he looked to have wasted the opportunity, some neat footwork helped him find space before firing into the bottom corner for the eighth and final time.
France extended their lead at the top of Group A to three points with a tight 2-1 win over Sweden in Paris.
Emil Forsberg gave the Swedes a shock lead in the 54th minute before Dimitri Payet set up Paul Pogba to put the home side level three minutes later.
And Payet moved France closer to qualification for the finals when he converted a ball from Antoine Griezmann to net the winner in the 65th minute.
Northern Ireland shattered the unbeaten start of Azerbaijan with a 4-0 win in Belfast which moves Michael O’Neill’s men up to second place in Group C.
Goals from Kyle Lafferty, Gareth McAuley, Conor McLaughlin and Chris Brunt secured an emphatic win over opponents buoyed by their magnificent start to the campaign.
Also in Group C, the Czech Republic claimed their first win in four attempts with a tight 2-1 success over Norway in Prague.
Michal Krmencik put the home side in front after 11 minutes and Jaromir Zmrhal added a second two minutes after the break before Joshua King scored a late consolation for Norway.
Two goals from Robert Lewandowski helped Poland take over at the top of Group E with a 3-0 win over Romania in Bucharest, Kamil Grosicki paving the way for victory with an 11th-minute opener.
The Poles seized on a stunning 3-2 defeat for former leaders Montenegro in Armenia, the hosts rallying from 2-0 down to grab a dramatic winner through Gevorg Ghazaryan in injury time.
Eriksen at the double
Christian Eriksen scored twice as Denmark earned their first win and moved up to third place in Group E with a 4-1 win over Kazakhstan.
Slovenia jumped to second place in Group F after squeezing out a 1-0 win in Malta courtesy of Benjamin Verbic’s 47th-minute goal.
Despite starting the night in second place, Lithuania crashed to a 4-0 defeat to Slovakia in Trnava, Martin Skrtel and Marek Hamsik among the scorers.