France once again left it to the last minute, as substitute Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet beat an impressive Albania.
This 2-0 result means Didier Deschamps' men are the first side qualified for the next round of Euro 2016.
Les Bleus surprisingly dropped Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann in favour of Anthony Martial and Juventus-owned Kingsley Coman, the first time both failed to start since November 2015. Albania were still smarting from their slender defeat to Switzerland and Lorik Cana was suspended after his red card in that match. Gianni De Biasi’s side had four Serie A players in the starting XI, including newly-promoted Pescara’s Ledian Memushaj.
Albania beat France in a friendly recently and it was a very even start to the game, Olivier Giroud’s header over the bar and Hugo Lloris alert on an Elseid Hysaj cross-shot.
Pescara midfielder Memushaj skimmed the bar with a free kick, but the first half had no shots on target.
Pogba came on after the restart and immediately Coman’s diving header was inches wide, but Albania went even closer as Bacary Sagna anticipated Memushaj on Hysaj’s cross and bundled it on to his own upright.
Dimitri Payet put in a series of marvellous crosses, but Pogba’s volley and a Laurent Koscielny header were over, while Giroud turned a free header wide from 10 yards.
Giroud aimed considerably better moments later, but only nodded it on to the post. Meanwhile, Didier Deschamps walked back his tactical experiment entirely, adding Griezmann to the mix.
Sagna volleyed over after good work from Payet and several more chances went begging until France once again won at the 89th minute.
An Adil Rami cross from the right found substitute Griezmann in space between the centre-backs for a glancing header.
Albania poured forward in stoppages, allowing Payet to finish the 2-0 scoreline on the counter sparked by Pogba.
France 2-0 Albania
Griezmann 89 (F), Payet 95 (F)
France:Lloris; Sagna, Rami, Koscielny, Evra; Kante, Matuidi; Coman (Griezmann 68), Payet, Martial (Pogba 46); Giroud (Gignac 77)
Albania: Berisha; Hysaj, Ajeti (Veseli 84), Mavraj, Agolli; Kukeli (Xhaka 74); Lila (Roshi 71), Abrashi, Memushaj, Lenjani; Sadiku
Ref: Collum (SCO)
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