Thierry Henry became France's record goalscorer as his late double broke the resistance of a determined Lithuania to take Raymond Domenech's side top of UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group B.
Les Bleus had looked to be on the brink of elimination following last month's home defeat by Scotland, but Saturday's 6-0 win in the Faroe Islands revived their challenge and, though they struggled to overcome doughty opposition in Nantes, Henry struck twice in the last ten minutes. His strikes moved him on to 43 international goals, overtaking Michel Platini's total of 41 for France. The 2000 European champions also know that victory in their last fixture in Ukraine on 21 November will secure a place in Austria/Switzerland.
France peppered Žydrunas Karčemarskas's goal from the off but failed to break the deadlock, Franck Ribéry threatening in the first minute with a powerful shot that the goalkeeper tipped against the crossbar. Karim Benzema had an effort deflected just wide and Florent Malouda also struck the woodwork, although at the other end Audrius Ksanavicius turned inside Eric Abidal and Jérémy Toulalan only for his left-foot attempt to curl against the post.
William Gallas, Malouda, Henry and Benzema all passed up glorious opportunities to put the hosts in front before half-time and the second period continued in familiar fashion, Henry firing over and then being denied twice by Karčemarskas either side of Ribéry's wayward drive. The pressure was relentless and substitute Hatem Ben Arfa volleyed wide before Les Bleus finally found a way through in the 80th minute.
Ben Arfa was the instigator, supplying a left-wing cross that was deflected into the path of Henry, and the FC Barcelona striker made no mistake from close range. Within 60 seconds Karčemarskas was beaten again, Henry racing on to Toulalan's through ball and calmly side-footing past the exposed goalkeeper to take his team above Scotland and Italy at the head of the standings. Lithuania, who remain fifth, next play Ukraine on 17 November.