Gary Cahill was the only Chelsea starter in England’s win over San Marino with Ashley Cole remaining on the bench, as did several of his club team-mates elsewhere across Europe.
The match at Wembley was a World Cup qualifier and Cahill played the full 90 minutes of a comfortable victory over a side ranked joint lowest in the world, even if it did take over half an hour for Wayne Rooney to break the deadlock from the penalty spot. Rooney also netted in the second half and there were two goals from Danny Welbeck and one from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Branislav Ivanovic and Serbia came off distinctly second best against Chelsea colleagues as a Belgium side containing Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois won 3-0 away in Belgrade. It was a De Bruyne cross that was headed in for the first goal before he scored the second with a firm right-foot shot from inside the area.
Hazard was subbed for tactical reasons on 55 minutes, De Bruyne on 87 minutes. Belgium top their group with seven points from three games. England are in a similar position in theirs.
There was no clean sheet for Petr Cech playing in his home city of Plzen but there was a win as Czech Republic defeated Malta 3-1. The visitors were allowed to equalise before two second-half goals gave the home side breathing space, although it would have been a closer scoreline had Malta not missed a stoppage time penalty.
Fernando Torres had to watch from the bench as Spain continued in typical vein, thrashing Belarus 4-0 away. Pedro scored a hat-trick. Spain with six points from six are leading the way in their group.
Conor Clifford, a late call-up to the squad, remained an unused sub for Republic of Ireland who went down 6-1 at home to Germany.
Dropping down the age groups, Josh McEachran was also an unused sub in England Under-21s’ 1-0 home win over Serbia. The match was the first leg of a play-off to reach the European Championship finals.