Spain, Germany and Italy won Friday to move to the brink of qualification for next year's World Cup, while Cristiano Ronaldo's first international hat trick kept Portugal on course for the tournament in Brazil.
The Netherlands needed an injury time penalty kick from Robin van Persie for a 2-2 tie at 85th-ranked Estonia, and England moved atop its group with a 4-0 rout of Moldova as Danny Welbeck scored twice following Steven Gerrard's first England goal in three years and Rickie Lambert's second in two games.
Defending world champion Spain won 2-0 at Finland on goals by Jordi Alba and Alvaro Negredo, opening a three-point lead in Group I over France, which tied 0-0 at Georgia.
The nine European group winners qualify for next June's 32-nation field, and the top eight second-place teams advance to playoffs.
In late games in North America and the Caribbean, the United States was at Costa Rica, Mexico hosted Honduras and Panama was home against Jamaica.
Only five teams are assured World Cup berths thus far: host Brazil and Asian qualifiers Australia, Iran, Japan and South Korea.
Germany and Italy would clinch first place in their groups with wins Tuesday. Germany beat Austria 3-0 as Miroslav Klose scored his 68th international goal, tying Gerd Mueller's German record. Italy defeated Bulgaria 1-0 on Alberto Gilardino's 38th-minute goal.
Ronaldo scored in the 68th, 77th and 83rd minutes as Portugal rallied for a 4-2 win at Northern Ireland. While he has 20 hat tricks for Real Madrid and one for Manchester United, he had never scored three goals in a match for his country.
With 43 international goals, he moved two ahead of Eusebio on Portugal's career and trails only Pauleta's 47. Portugal, which has two games left, opened a two-point lead in Group F over Russia, which has three matches remaining.
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