Those looking for shocks better search elsewhere. Group A is progressing as expected, even if the less fancied nations put up decent efforts in the fifth round of fixtures.
Belgium struggled to break down a Macedonia side that will be pleased to return home with a 1-0 loss. Minutes after crashing a shot off the bar, Eden Hazard scored the decisive goal in the 63rd after being afforded space in the opposing area. Macedonia managed just one shot on target in a match that sees Belgium retain top spot in a group of two contenders.
Croatia fought off an excellent performance from Wales to snuggle alongside Belgium on 13 points.
Goal difference separates two sides that are unbeaten in this campaign. Gareth Bale's penalty put Wales up 1-0 with 20 minutes gone, but Croatia responded with a strong last 15 minutes to take the spoils. Dejan Lovren scored a superb 25-yard shot with about 13 minutes left, while Eduardo's volley whizzed through Boaz Myhill's legs with three minutes to play.
Serbia currently sit two points behind Wales after a scrappy 2-0 win over Scotland. Two defensive errors saw Filip Djuricic capitalise on a terrible pitch.
Bulgaria's hopes of catching Italy suffered a major blow with the hard-fought 1-1 draw in Denmark. A sweeping move saw Aleksandar Tonev assist Stanislav Manolev in the centre of the box, giving Bulgaria the lead. Daniel Agger coolly slotted a penalty away 10 minutes later to tie the match in the second half.
A Mario Balotelli double helped an experienced Italian side overcome Malta 2-0. The Milan striker opened with a penalty in the opening minutes and went on to add a second just before halftime.
The Czech Republic eased to a 3-0 win over Armenia with two goals from the 20-year-old Matej Vydra. Daniel Kolar notched the final strike with a decent finish in the final minutes.
Italy will feel the hard work is almost done, as Cesare Prandelli's men remain three points clear with a game in hand over Bulgaria.
Germany cantered toward a 4-1 victory over Kazakhstan with a quartet of goals straight from Dortmund. Marco Reus opened and finished the scoring, with Mario Gotze and Ilkay Gundogan also adding to the tally. Heinrich Schmidtgal jotted up a moment to remember for the away side with a great finish just after the break.
Giovanni Trappatoni's battling Republic of Ireland side gave up a last-minute equaliser to finish 2-2 with Austria. Martin Harnik put the visitors ahead with 11 minutes gone before a Jonathan Walters double saw the Aviva crowd cheer themselves into halftime. More Bundesliga-themed heroics arrived in Group Three, as David Alaba rifled a deflected shot into David Forde's net at the death.
Unsurprisingly, Germany remain unbeaten at the top of the group with 16 points. Austria are on eight points and ahead of Sweden on goal difference, although the latter have two matches in hand.
The Netherlands maintained a 100 percent record with another easy win against a gutless Romanian side. Rafael van der Vaart opened the scoring on 11 minutes before a Robin van Persie double, and Jeremy Lens completed the 4-0 rout.
Turkey and Hungary failed to capitalise on Romania's loss with a 1-1 draw in Istanbul. Burak Yilmaz added to his fantastic season with yet another goal, only for it to be cancelled out via Daniel Bode's goal from the bench.
Elsewhere, Estonia overcame Andorra 2-0 in the battle of the minnows. Goals from Henri Anier and Joel Lindpere maintained the visitors' winless—and scoreless—run through the group.
Netherlands currently lead the way with 18 points and are trailed by Hungary on 11. Romania and Turkey sit just behind with 10 and seven, respectively.
An unconvincing Portugal side once again took their time to beat severely inferior opposition. Bruno Alves headed an opener with half an hour to play in a game that didn't feature Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid star's suspension nearly threatened to prove pivotal, until Portugal's fears were eased with a second goal from Hugo Almeida. This one finished 2-0.
Northern Ireland put up a determined display against Israel at Windsor Park, but ultimately couldn't hold it together for 90 minutes. Two counter-attacking surges saw Lior Refaelov and Eden Ben Basat complete a 2-0 win.
Russia are extremely comfortable at the top of Group Six. Fabio Capello's side have two games in hand and are one point ahead of Israel, who lead Portugal on goal difference.
One of the most important games of the day saw England travel to Montenegro.
Although Wayne Rooney's simple header deservedly put Roy Hodgson's men ahead, the hosts responded with an assertive performance after the interval. Dejan Damjanovic made it 1-1 after a home onslaught, leaving England lucky to escape with a 1-1 draw. Hodgson's men have a real job to do in the next set of games.
Both Ukraine and Poland are beginning to assert pressure after the aforementioned draw. Goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Khacheridi pushed Ukraine beyond Moldova with a 2-1 win, while Poland walloped San Mario 5-0 in Warsaw. Robert Lewandowski and Lukasz Piszczek added themselves to the list of Dortmund players on target on the day.
Montenegro top a tight group with 14 points. England remain in second with 12, but Poland and Ukraine are locked on eight with a game in hand over the top two.
Undoubtedly the showcase tie of the day came in Group Nine.
France hosted an under-pressure Spanish side in a tightly contested encounter that could have gone either way. Vicente Del Bosque's boys won the match 1-0 after Pedro bundled the ball home with half an hour to go. Paul Pogba was harshly sent off for two yellow cards shortly after, with only a stunning Victor Valdes save stopping France from nabbing a point.
This result launched Spain above France at the group's summit. The world champions have 11 points and currently hold France at arm's length on 10.