France had to cling on in Tirana as three points against Albania moved Laurent
Blanc's team closer to an automatic place at Euro 2012.
Early goals from Karim Benzema and Yann M'Vila looked to have put Les Bleus in
complete control inside the first quarter of the match, but Albania rocked the
visitors with a reply from Erjon Bogdani in the opening minute of the second
The hosts had chances to net an equaliser but France stayed ahead.
And after starting the day with a one-point cushion over Belarus at the top of
Group D, France now hold a three-point lead over their new nearest challengers
Bosnia and Herzegovina, who won 2-0 in Minsk.
Blanc's side travel to face Romania on Tuesday before finishing their group
campaign with home matches against tonight's opponents and Bosnia and
France led from the 12th minute when Benzema, who left training early yesterday
due to a minor ankle problem, showed he was unaffected by the knock.
The Real Madrid striker forced Samir Ujkani to make a superb parry initially
before firing home at the second attempt.
Hamdi Salihi drilled a shot over the France bar, before it became 2-0 after 18
Benzema fed the ball to M'Vila, and the midfielder drove a right-footed shot
from 20 yards into the top-left corner.
M'Vila almost struck again but his next attempt was blocked by Lorik Cana.
At the other end Younes Kaboul got his body in the way of a shot from Ervin
Skela, before Agolli's fierce effort forced Hugo Lloris to tip the ball behind
for a corner.
Albania were almost three goals behind when Franck Ribery's 20-yard free-kick
looked like finding the net, only for Ujkani to make a superb stop.
But the hosts were back in the contest from the start of the second half as
Bogdani planted a right-footed shot into the French net from 12 yards.
Lloris saved with comfort from Ervin Bulku, Jahmir Hyka and Kristi Vangjeli,
while Ribery put a shot wide for France and Florent Malouda lifted a shot too
France hit the post twice in the closing 10 minutes, through a header by Kaboul
and a shot from Samir Nasri, but Albania had a chance too.
Elis Bakaj found space to meet a cross from Ansi Agolli, only for Lloris to
make the vital catch from his header.