England made it nine consecutive wins in Group E of the 2016 UEFA European Championship qualifiers after comfortably defeating Estonia 2-0 inside Wembley Stadium last night.
The Three Lions, who have already qualified for next summer’s finals in France after last month’s victory over Switzerland, maintained their ruthless streak on their return to the national stadium thanks to goals in either half from Theo Walcott and Raheem Sterling.
Roy Hodgson’s side, who are ranked tenth in the latest FIFA world rankings, have now collected the maximum 27 points from nine qualification matches, with 87th ranked Estonia the latest country to fall to England’s mercy.
Despite being without the injured captain and all-time record goalscorer, Wayne Rooney, the hosts took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Arsenal’s Walcott’s exquisite finish from close-range following Ross Barkley’s superb through ball.
Then with just five minutes left on the clock; England finally wrapped up all three points when substitute Jamie Verdy unselfishly teed up Sterling, giving the Manchester City ace only his second international goal.
“It was as tough as we thought it would be,” admitted national coach Hodgson.
“Estonia were well organised and they’re a team that is intelligent in the way they play.
“We had to work hard, we attacked a lot, we had a lot of the ball and had a lot of chances. I thought we were good value for our 2-0 win.”
A ninth consecutive win on the bounce means England are on course to become only the sixth side to complete European Championship qualifying with a 100 per cent record.
The Three Lions round off their qualifying campaign when they visit second-bottom Lithuania on Monday (19:45pm), before taking on tougher opponents France and Spain in November.
Elsewhere; defending European champions Spain booked their place at Euro 2016 after individual braces from Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla and Valencia’s Paco Alcacer guaranteed them top spot in Group C following their 4-0 win over Luxembourg.
England’s Group E runners-up Switzerland snatched the final automatic spot for next year’s Euros with a thumping 7-0 victory over minnows San Marino, whilst Slovenia and Lithuania played out a 1-1 draw in Ljubljana.
Behind leaders Spain in Group C; the race for the final automatic qualification spot will go down to the final day between Slovakia , who lost 1-0 to Belarus, and Ukraine, who saw off Macedonia 2-0, on Friday night. Both nations are now locked on 19 points.
Meanwhile in Group G; Russia need just a point against Montenegro on Monday to secure qualification after beating Moldova 2-1. Third-placed Sweden have the improbable chance of piping the Russian to the runners-up spot after moving just two points behind them after their 2-0 win at Liechtenstein.
And lastly undefeated Austria, who sit top of Group G with 25 points from their nine qualifiers, narrowly saw off Montenegro 3-2 away from home to extend their impressive run of form.
Spain and Switzerland’s safe passage into next year’s finals now means there are nine nations already certain of playing at next year’s Euro 2016 finals, joining England, Austria, Czech Republic, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Portugal and hosts France respectively.