SKOPJE: Germany became the first nation to join hosts Qatar at the 2022 World Cup finals with a decisive European qualifying victory in North Macedonia.
Former England youth international Jamal Musiala opened his account for the Germans, running in on goal and stroking home a confident finish.
Kai Havertz claimed the first goal in the second half, slotting in from Thomas Muller’s unselfish pass.
Timo Werner smashed home the second following Muller’s superb flick and also curled in a delightful third.
The Germans could have had more, but Chelsea forward Werner rattled the post with a thumping low drive on the stroke of half time, but managed to score twice as his side got the job done with clinical finishing in the second period.
It will be a night to remember for 18-year-old ex-Chelsea academy graduate Musiala, who played 19 times for various England youth teams but declared to play for Germany through his mother, as he netted a first senior goal on his ninth cap.
Hansi Flick’s men, who are four-time world champions, reach the tournament for the 20th occasion, with only Brazil (21) appearing more times.
They did it with two games to spare, with meetings against Liechtenstein and Armenia to come next month.
Memphis Depay scored twice as Netherlands swept to an easy victory over Gibraltar in Rotterdam.
Virgil van Dijk headed in a ninth-minute corner for the opener.
Depay then saw the first of two first-half penalties saved but tapped in from Davy Klaassen’s pass before converting a spot-kick just before the break.
Denzel Dumfries nodded in the fourth, Arnaut Danjuma slid in the fifth and Donyell Malen scored late on.
The Dutch, who had 31 attempts on goal, have now scored four goals or more in three consecutive home games for the first time since October 2001.
Louis van Gaal’s side remain two points clear of Norway at the top of Group G with Turkey in third.
Wales win again
Wales secured a precious World Cup qualifying victory over Estonia as Kieffer Moore gave them a 1-0 win in Tallinn.
Cardiff striker Moore – who was later booked and will be suspended for next month’s home game against Belarus – prodded home from close range after 12 minutes.
In the race for a runners-up spot behind Belgium, and the March play-off places that comes with it, Wales stay third in Group E behind the Czech Republic.
The Czechs were 2-0 winners over Belarus to extend their superior goal difference and Wales may still have to rely on their Nations League success to confirm their play-off participation.
Wales skipper Aaron Ramsey said: “The first 30 minutes we did pretty well and got into some dangerous areas. The second half wasn’t good enough but it showed the resilience of this team again and we came away with the three points.
“It’s not always easy coming away with a second game in quick succession, but it shows the team we’ve got to get the win. It was one of those performances we needed to dig in and grind out a result.
“It’s all in our hands. We’ll be back at home in front of our home support and hopefully put in two great performances.”