Nicolas Anelka blasted France to within touching distance of World Cup salvation as the Republic of Ireland's brave resistance was finally broken in a 1-0 defeat.
The Chelsea striker's 72nd-minute shot was deflected past Shay Given by Sean St Ledger to hand the French a precious lead and valuable away goal to take into Wednesday night's second leg in Paris.
It could have been worse for Giovanni Trapattoni's men with Andre-Pierre Gignac guilty of a glaring miss with 10 minutes remaining, although goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had to make a brave 87th-minute save to deny Glenn Whelan an equaliser.
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