TIRANA, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — France beat Albania 2-1 in their Euro 2012 qualifier with two goals in the first 18 minutes on Friday and consolidated their lead of Group D with 16 points.
Striker Karim Benzema gave the French side the lead in 11th minute with a powerful shot from outside the area that beat Albania’s goalkeeper Saimir Ujkani, whose effort only deflected the ball into the net.
Benzema then served a perfect pass to set up Yann M’Vila who shot into Ujkani’s right corner in the 18th minute.
Albania had displayed flashes of good play with rapid passes in the midfield that inspired their fans, but did not threaten France.
Albania lost its best chance to score with a Hamdi Salihi drive right after the second goal by the French side, but his shot hit the bar and ended in the arms of French goalie Hugo Lloris. The French side largely controlled the midfield and Lloris denied Hansi Agolli a goal with a splendid jump to deflect his powerful shot from outside the area.
When all predicted the French would score more goals, striker Erion Bogdani made good use of a long pass from Ervin Bulku and a scramble between two French defenders to score Albania’s only goal in the 46th minute. The goal helped Bogdani equalize the record of best scorer for the national squad held by Alban Bushi, who quit the team on Friday.
Lloris showed skill in denying Albania several chances with superb saves in the remaining time.
France, who now leads the group with 16 points, three points ahead of Bosnia after it beat Belarus 2-0 away, will face Romania on Tuesday.