France edged a step closer to securing automatic qualification for Euro 2012 as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania won in the battle to claim second spot.
Laurent Blanc's France side had to survive a late rally to record a 2-1 success away to Albania and go three points clear in Group D.
Les Bleus led from the 12th minute when Karim Benzema, who left training early on Thursday 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.
It was 2-0 on 18 minutes when Benzema fed the ball to reported Arsenal target Yann M'Vila, and the midfielder drove a right-footed shot from 20 yards into the top-left corner.
The visitors came close to a third goal before Albania got back in the contest at the start of the second half as Erjon Bogdani planted a right-footed shot into the net from 12 yards.
Younes Kaboul and Samir Nasri both then struck the post for France, while Albania had a late chance to snatch a surprise point.
Bosnia-Herzegovina enjoyed a 2-0 victory away to Belarus to leapfrog their opponents into second spot in Group D.
Sejad Salihovic and Haris Medunjanin scored the goals in the first half to set Bosnia up perfectly for the return meeting with Belarus in Zenica next week.
Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko twice went close for Bosnia before the visitors took the lead on 24 minutes when Maksim Zhavnerchik handled the ball in the area and Salihovic despatched the resulting penalty.
The hosts barely had time to register that goal when they found themselves two down, Medunjanin making the most of a ball that came his way by finding the bottom left corner from 20 yards.
Romania remained two points behind Bosnia in the standings following a 2-0 victory away to Luxembourg.
Udinese new boy Gabriel Torje scored both goals in the first half to leave Luxembourg bottom of the group with just one point from eight games.
The visitors made the breakthrough 11 minutes before half-time when winger Torje slotted his shot into the bottom right corner from 12 yards.
He powered a 25-yard attempt wide soon after but did not have to wait too long for the second goal, again finding the bottom right corner from Costin Lazar's pass as half-time approached.