Germany, NORWAY SOCCER FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 QUALIFICATION.jpg
Joshua Kimmich (L) of Germany celebrates with team mates Sami Khedira (C) and Julian Draxler after scoring the 2-0 goal during the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Europe Group C soccer match between Norway and Germany at the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, Norway, 04 September 2016.
Photograph: EPA/Federico Gambarini

Heavyweights Germany and England won away from home as European qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup began Sunday.

World champions Germany kicked off their campaign with an authoritative 3-0 win in Norway. 

Thomas Mueller left aside his poor form at Euro 2016 to bag a brace for Germany, while Joshua Kimmich was their other scorer. 

"We played a good away game. We could have scored a few more but we can be satisfied even though with our quality there is room for improvement," Mueller said.

Loew said he was "especially pleased" for Mueller who had been luckless in front of goal at Euro 2016.

"I would rather he had scored one or two at Euro 2016," Loew quipped before adding: "It will do him good for the rest of the season and also us."

In the same Group C, the Czech Republic were held 0-0 by dogged Northern Ireland and San Marino crashed 1-0 at home to Azerbaijan, for whom Ruslan Gurbanov got the crucial goal.

Meanwhile in Group E, Poland were held 2-2 in Kazakhstan despite having gone 2-0 up thanks to a handsome brace from Robert Lewandowski.

However, the hosts hit back with two strikes from Sergey Khizhnichenko within six minutes of each other.

"We should have finished this game off with a third goal," Lewandowski said.

"We are very annoyed to have let these three points slip away from us like this."

In the same group, Denmark edged Armenia 1-0 on an early goal from Christian Eriksen, who later on missed a penalty. And Romania were held 1-1 at home to Montenegro, for whom Stevan Jovetic snatched a late equalizer.

Earlier Sunday, Sam Allardyce made a dramatic start as manager of England Sunday with a last-gasp 1-0 win in Slovakia in 2018 World Cup qualifying Group F.

England dominated from start to finish against opponents content to defend in depth and play on the break, but failed to find a goal right until the very end.

Adam Lallana scored for the persistent visitors in the fifth minute of injury time with a scuffed shot that crept over the goal-line after a low cross from Danny Rose.

Slovakia had captain Martin Skrtel sent off in the 57th minute for stamping on Harry Kane, after previously coming close to getting a second yellow card on four occasions.

"Pretty nerve-racking in the end because the 10-men scenario means you're supposed to win," Allardyce said.

"It's difficult to break them down but finally we got what we deserved."

And England captain Wayne Rooney said: "We didn't panic, that was the main thing. We stuck to our plan and kept out shape.

"Adam scored the goal to get us off to an excellent start."

So too did Scotland, with an emphatic 5-1 win in Malta.

Robert Snodgrass was Scotland's hero with a handsome hat-trick. Their other goals were put away by Chris Martin and Steven Fletcher.

Meanwhile, Lithuania were held 2-2 by defiant Slovenia in the group's other game. 

Lithuania raced into a 2-0 lead on early goals from Fiodor Cernych and Vykintas Slivka, only for defiant Slovenia to hit back with goals in the last three minutes from Rene Krhin and Bostjan Cesar.

"This is a great result for us, completely deserved. We refused to give up and die," Krhin said.

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