England’s perfect record in World Cup qualifying vanished after conceding a stoppage-time equalizer in Poland, while Italy, Germany, Spain and Belgium all won on Wednesday to build big leads in their groups on the road to Qatar.
Harry Kane’s 41st goal for England — a 30-meter pile driver — was canceled out when Robert Lewandowski crossed for Damian Szymanski to head home in the second minute of injury time in a 1-1 draw in Warsaw.
England’s five-match winning run in qualifying ended, leaving Denmark as the only nation with a 100% record so far. Still, England holds a four-point lead with four games remaining and should have no problem getting to next year’s World Cup.
Italy shouldn’t, either, after dispatching Lithuania in a 5-0 win to open up a six-point lead in its group. The recently crowned European champions extended their record unbeaten run to 37 games.
No country has a bigger lead than Belgium, which won 1-0 in Belarus to move nine points clear and to the brink of securing first place.
Spain’s lead is smaller — four points over Sweden — in a significant night in Group B. While Sweden was losing 2-1 at Greece, Spain won 2-0 at Kosovo though it has played two more games than its closest rival.
Germany beat Iceland 4-0 away and extended its lead to four points over Armenia.
It was billed as a head-to-head between Kane and Lewandowski, two of the world’s top strikers, and both delivered in the draw between England and Poland.
Kane scored perhaps his best goal for England when he collected the ball in space in a central area before taking another touch and smashing a swerving shot into the bottom corner. He moved into fifth place on England’s all-time list, 12 goals behind No. 1 Wayne Rooney’s 53.
Lewandowski failed to score in a match for the first time this season but he did play a major role in Szymanski’s first goal for Poland.
England’s lead in Group I was trimmed to four points because Albania beat San Marino 5-0 to move into second place, a point above Poland. Hungary beat Andorra 2-1 and was in fourth place, a point behind Poland.
Italy fielded a new-look attacking lineup and it fired the team to its first victory since winning Euro 2020.
Moise Kean scored twice and Giacomo Raspadori had his first Italy goal — and forced an own-goal — as the European champions moved into a 4-0 lead by halftime. The two 21-year-olds were playing because Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa were missing.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo also scored his first goal for Italy, early in the second half.
Switzerland is still in range in second place in Group C despite a 0-0 draw against Northern Ireland, because it has two games in hand over Italy.
Switzerland forward Haris Seferović had a penalty saved by goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Spain’s win in Kosovo, courtesy of goals by Pablo Fornals and Ferran Torres, was marked by protests by the home fans over Spain’s non-recognition of the country.
Some of the nearly 1,000 fans at the Fadil Vokrri Stadium in Pristina displayed banners criticizing Spain’s stance not to recognize Kosovo’s 2008 independence from Serbia.
“Dear Royal Spanish Football Federation, WELCOME TO THE REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO,” read one of the banners. Fans also used banners with big letters spelling “REPUBLIC.”
In the nations’ encounter in April, Spain’s national broadcaster disregarded normal protocol by not mentioning Kosovo as a country and using lowercase letters for “kos” in its graphics. Ahead of that game, the Spanish federation had already upset Kosovo officials by referring to the country as a “territory.”
Germany is showing signs of further progress under new coach Hansi Flick.
Serge Gnabry, Antonio Rüdiger, Leroy Sané and Timo Werner scored to see off Iceland in Group J and ensure Flick’s record is three wins from three games since taking over from Joachim Löw.
Noah Frick’s late goal earned tiny Liechtenstein a 1-1 draw in Armenia, which lost round in second place. North Macedonia and Romania failed to take advantage of Armenia’s slip-up as they played to a goalless draw in Skopje.
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