(CNN) -- Germany remain in firm control of World Cup qualifying Group Four after seeing off Wales 2-0 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
Michael Ballack fires home the opening goal in Germany's 2-0 victory in Wales on Wednesday.
The hosts suffered a major blow before kick-off when star striker and captain Craig Bellamy was ruled out through injury and their spirits were dealt a further blow when Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack put his side ahead after 11 minutes.
The visitors were allowed to take a throw-in on the left that should have been a Wales ball after it deflected off a visiting player.
Neither linesman nor referee reacted and the ball was instantly fed to Ballack, who unleashed a swerving drive from 30 yards that crashed into the top corner of the net.
The second goal came three minutes after the break when Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez managed to retain possession despite falling to the ground at the byline -- before cutting the ball into the six-yard box where defender Ashley Williams turned it into his own net.
The result means Germany are now sitting pretty at the top of the table with 16 points, four clear of Russia -- who struggled to a 1-0 win in Liechtenstein on Wednesday.
Konstantin Zyryanov scored the game's only goal in the 38th minute, slipping the ball past goalkeeper Peter Jehle following a cross from Andrei Arshavin.
Meanwhile, Group Three remains tight with just three points separating the top three nations. Surprise leaders Northern Ireland show no sign of letting up at the top and they remain in control of the group after Warren Feeney gave them a 1-0 home win over Slovenia.
They lie on 13 points, one ahead of Slovakia who shocked group favorites and rivals Czech Republic 2-1 in Prague thanks to Erik Jendrisek's late goal.
Poland are a further two points behind in third position after going goal crazy at home to minnows San Marino, Bolton striker Ebi Smolarek scoring four in a 10-0 rout.