Wayne Rooney scored two of England's five goals against Kazakhstan in their 2010 World cup qualifier, while Germany had a harder time beating Russia 2-1 thanks to goals by Ballack and Podolski.
Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack and Bayern Munich striker Lukas Podolski fired first-half goals to give Germany a 2-1 win over hard-working Russia in Saturday's World Cup qualifier here.
Germany remain a point clear at the top of Group Four on seven points with two wins and a draw after their win over Guus Hiddink's Russia team who are fourth in the table with three points from last month's 2-1 win over Wales.
Podolski and captain Ballack scored within the first half hour to give the home side a 2-0 lead at the break.
But Russian play-maker Andrei Arshavin scored early in the second-half and the guests had Germany under pressure right up to the final whistle.
"We played well in the first-half and grabbed two nice goals," said Ballack, who missed Germany's last two games with injury.
"But the Russians didn't allow us any peace and so nearly earned a goal right up until the end."
Podolski finds it easier to get into the Germany team than the Bayern side having spent most of the season on the bench and the 23-year-old now has 31 goals in 58 internationals.
"The coach gave me the chance again and I paid the confidence back with a good game," said Podolski.
"That was one of our best performances, but the Russians had us under intense pressure in the second-half."
Injuries meant striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, defender Denis Kolodin and midfielder Dmitry Torbinsky were all missing from Hiddink's selection.
The only surprise in Joachim Loew's Germany team was the midfield inclusion of Stuttgart's Thomas Hitzlsperger for fit-again Torsten Frings, who along with Ballack, missed last month's 6-0 win in Liechtenstein and the 3-3 draw in Helsinki through injury.
A broken hand suffered by first-choice goalkeeper Robert Enke on Wednesday gave Bayer Leverkusen's 23-year-old Rene Adler his debut in goal for Germany.
He was tested early on when Yuri Zhirkov got in behind the German defence and put in a cross which lone striker Pavel Pogrebnyak just failed to convert inside the first five minutes.
German defender Philipp Lahm and Ballack both went close moments later as the home side increased the pressure.
Germany took the lead when striker Miroslav Klose slipped the ball through the defence and Podolski turned his marker before making sure he was the first to the ball in the penalty area to fire home on nine minutes.
And the home side went 2-0 ahead when Bastian Schweinsteiger's pass put his captain Ballack into the penalty area and the Chelsea star volleyed home from five metres out on 28 minutes.
It was so nearly 3-0 when Podolski rifled his shot home on 33 minutes, but Akinfeev pushed the ball around the post to make it 2-0 at the break.
Russia's attack - which so impressed during Euro 2008 when they reached the semi-finals - finally made an impact on 51 minutes when Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Arshavin stabbed home his shot with Adler under intense pressure.
Germany were soon back on the attack and ex-Aston Villa midfielder Hitzlsperger went close with a long-range volley approaching the hour mark and Hamburg winger Piotr Trochowski beat Akinfeev, but hit the bar moments later.
Russia should have equalised when a ball over the defence put Progrebnyak one-on-one with Adler, but the German keeper scrambled away the danger.
Adler was repeatedly tested in the dying minutes, but Germany held their lead to take the three points.
In the next round of Group Four games, Germany face Wales at home in Moenchengladbach on Wednesday, the same night Russia play Finland in Moscow.
England stuns Kazakhstan
England clinched a flattering 5-1 win over hapless Kazakhstan on Saturday as British ambitions spluttered once again on the road to the 2010 World Cup.
Wales kept alive their hopes with a workmanlike 2-0 win against Liechtenstein while Scotland's hopes of making the finals were left hanging by a thread after a dour 0-0 draw against Norway.
At Wembley, Wayne Rooney scored twice as England stayed on top of Group Six with a maximum nine points but the performance was nothing like as convincing as the scoreline suggested.
After the euphoria generated by last month's 4-1 win in Croatia, England coach Fabio Capello had been hopeful of another impressive display to make international rivals sit up and take notice.
But they had to wait until seven minutes into the second half to take the lead through a Rio Ferdinand header before defender Alexandr Kuchma put through his own goal to double their advantage.
Zhambyl Kukeyev's well-taken strike briefly gave the visitors hope before Rooney's double and a late strike from substitute Jermain Defoe spared their coach a tense finale.
"In the first half we had couple of chances and could have gone in one or two goals up at half-time. But we knew we had to be patient," said Rooney.
"We knew the chances would come and we would take them. We know we can play better, but the result was the main thing - to get the points on the board."
In the same group, Ukraine were held at home to a goalless draw by Croatia in Kharkov, which means England lead the table by two points from Ukraine and five from Croatia after three games.
Scotland's World Cup qualification hangs in the balance after a goalless draw against Norway at Hampden in Group Nine.
Chris Iwelumo, making his international debut as a second-half substitute, missed a golden chance to give the Scots a lead from just two yards out.
On Iwelumo's miss, Scotland manager George Burley said: "It was just one of those things. I don't know whether he miss-hit it or was a bit flat-footed."
In Cardiff, Wales were indebted to goals from David Edwards and substitute Chedwyn Evans for their win although skipper Craig Bellamy could have ensured a more comfortable outing had he not missed a first half penalty.
Wales have a much tougher Group Four task on Wednesday when they travel to Germany who were facing Russia in Dortmund later Saturday.
"We've got a win. It could have been better but we got the win," said Bellamy.
In the same group, Finland needed a second-half Mikael Forssell penalty to beat Azerbaijan.
Switzerland, who lost to Luxembourg last time out, saw off Latvia 2-1 in Zurich in Group Two with Ottmar Hitzfeld's side winning thanks to goals from all-time top scorer Alex Frei and Blaise N'kufo.
Austria, who beat France in their Group Seven opener, were held to a 1-1 draw in the Faroes.
On a bumper day of 24 ties in Europe, European champions Spain were facing Group Five whipping boys Estonia having secured a maximum six points so far and have yet to concede a goal.
Defending world champions Italy are at Bulgaria and also have six points from two Group Eight matches.
France, champions in 1998 and runners-up in 2006, travel to Romania lying in fourth place in Group Seven. Defeat on Saturday could cost coach Raymond Domenech his job with the faltering World Cup campaign coming in the wake of their humiliating Euro 2008.
Date created : 2008-10-11