Franck Ribery breathed new life into France's stuttering World Cup qualifying campaign with a second-half winner against Lithuania in Kaunas tonight.
The Bayern Munich winger's swerving left-foot shot in the 67th minute earned Les Bleus a deserved three points that keeps them in the hunt for top spot in Group Seven.
The French remain in third place but narrow the gap to the second-placed Lithuanians to just two points.
Serbia's 3-2 win over Romania earlier tonight keeps them at the summit, three points above Lithuania, but France have a game in hand over the pair above them.
On an uneven pitch and in cold conditions, France were in control throughout but it looked like they were going to fail to turn their dominance into goals before Ribery struck.
The result will take some of the heat off under-pressure Les Bleus coach Raymond Domenech and he will now be eyeing another victory over Lithuania on Wednesday at the Stade de France.
In the past, home and away matches against Lithuania would have been looked at by the French as an opportunity to pick up some easy qualification points.
But Les Bleus may have viewed the double-header with some trepidation given their current form, their already-perilous position in the group and the Lithuanians' vast improvement in recent years.
Buoyed by three wins from their opening four pool matches, the hosts came into the match in buoyant mood knowing the poor standard of the pitch was something of a leveller, in their favour.
But France quickly took charge of proceedings, with Peguy Luyindula - surprisingly named in Domenech's starting line-up after his late call-up to the squad as a replacement for the injured Jimmy Briand - especially prominent.
The Paris St Germain forward ran onto a neat through-ball by the excellent Jeremy Toulalan in the seventh minute but struck a weak shot straight at Lithuania goalkeeper Zydrunas Karcemarskas.
Luyindula then found space on the right wing and sent a cross along the edge of the box towards Yoann Gourcuff, whose first-time shot was saved by Karcemarskas.
France goalkeeper Steve Mandanda was a virtual spectator throughout, with Lithuania having just one half-chance in the game.
That came in the 35th minute when Darvydas Sernas pounced on a clearance from a corner but he lashed his shot from the angle high and wide.
The visitors' best opportunity before the break came in the 44th minute and it fell to midfield anchorman Toulalan.
Thierry Henry's glancing header from Gourcuff's corner landed in the path of the Lyon workhorse, but his effort was blocked by a combination of Karcemarskas and defender Arunas Klimavicius.
Moments later, Luyindula's shot on the turn was parried away by Karcemarskas while in the 52nd minute, the forward overran the ball when clean through on goal, allowing the Lithuania custodian to save.
France were soon in the lead, though. Ribery's goal came after good work by Gourcuff, the on-loan Bordeaux playmaker twisting and turning before teeing up the winger, whose left-foot shot from 20 yards swerved into the top corner.
Substitutes Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema were denied by Karcemarskas in the final 10 minutes, but France were not troubled at the other end late on.