World and European champion Spain romped to a 24th straight qualifying win on Friday, although no one in the country was able to see it. Pedro Rodriguez scored a hat trick as the world's best team routed host Belarus 4-0 in one of a group of big wins for Europe's leading nations in 2014 World Cup qualifying.
Yet celebrations were muted in the debt-ridden country after no broadcaster paid to televise the national team's match, for the first time in 29 years.
Spain's wasn't the most convincing win of the third round of regional qualifiers, with Germany handing Ireland its worst loss since 1971, 6-1 in Dublin.
Wayne Rooney celebrated being temporarily handed the England captaincy by scoring twice in a routine 5-0 win over San Marino, taking his goal tally in international matches to 31, fifth on the country's all-time scoring list.
Italy was again unconvincing while beating Armenia 3-1, and Holland managed only a comfortable 3-0 win over Andorra, which is 201st in the rankings.
However, Euro 2012 semifinalist Portugal, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, couldn't make the most of its dominance against Russia and lost 1-0 in a match between the top two teams in Group F.
The Portuguese are three points behind Russia, which is unbeaten under new coach Fabio Capello and has three straight wins in qualifying.
Belgium enhanced its burgeoning reputation as a growing force in Europe with a 3-0 win in Serbia, which lost a home World Cup qualifier for the first time in more than 10 years.
Sweden and the Czech Republic needed second-half rallies to avoid draws against weak competition, beating Faeroe Islands 2-1 and Malta 3-1, respectively.
The victory for the Swedes left them second in Group C, three points behind Germany ahead of their meeting in Berlin on Tuesday.
The third straight qualifying victory for Germany was launched by Marco Reus' goals in the 32nd and 40th minutes, before Mesut Ozil's penalty kick and goals by Miroslav Klose and Toni Kroos (two ) turned it into a rout.
Spain warmed up for its Group I match against France, which surprisingly lost 1-0 at home to Japan in a friendly on Friday, by stretching its winning run in qualifying (that dates back to September 2007 ).
Pedro set up Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba for the opener before scoring the remaining three goals himself in Minsk, putting Spain ahead of France on goal difference. Both countries have six points and only one team qualifies automatically from each group.
Spain, seeking an unprecedented fourth straight major international tournament trophy, is enjoying a golden era in its soccer history, but that still didn't persuade broadcasters to pay for coverage. The blackout came after the Belarusian producer, Sport Five, failed to reach a deal with any Spanish television channel. This was the first time a Spain match was not broadcast at home since 1983, when the team visited Malta.
Rooney was playing for England for the first time since Euro 2012 and was given the captain's role with Steven Gerrard suspended and Frank Lampard sidelined with injury. Rooney marked the occasion by joining Manchester United teammate Danny Welbeck in scoring twice at Wembley Stadium.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also scored for the hosts, who moved to the top of Group H.
It wasn't such a good night for Oxlade-Chamberlain's Arsenal teammate Theo Walcott, who spent the night in hospital after colliding with goalkeeper Aldo Junior Simoncini early in the game.
Russia's winner against Portugal came with its only shot on goal in the first half, Alexander Kerzhakov scoring in the sixth minute.
Ronaldo, who has scored six times in his last three league games for Spanish giants Real Madrid, barely had a sniff in Moscow.
In South American qualifying, Argentina moved to the top of the table with 17 points. Lionel Messi scored two second-half goals and Sergio Aguero added another as Argentina beat Uruguay. Messi scored in the 66th minute and added another with a free kick in the 80th, while Aguero scored in the 75th.
Alejandro Chumacero scored in the second half to enable host Bolivia to draw 1-1 with Peru, while Colombia beat Paraguay 2-0.
Radamel Falcao scored twice in the second half as Colombia improved to 16 points in eight matches and left Paraguay with only four points from five matches, the worst record among the nine teams. Felipe Caicedo scored twice as Ecuador defeated Chile 3-1 in Quito. Ecuador improved to 16 points while Chile has 12.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now