France closing in on World Cup finals spot
FRANCE is one win away from reaching the World Cup finals in Russia next year after a 1-0 win in Bulgaria.
Blaise Matuidi's early goal proved to be the match-winner with Les Bleus now on top of Group A with 20 points, one ahead of Sweden which thumped Luxembourg 8-0.
France will qualify for the finals with a home win against Belarus tomorrow morning (AEST).
The French are assured of at least a playoff place, with the best eight second-placed teams going through to the two-legged playoffs.
Matuidi struck after three minutes with a fine angled shot and Bulgaria had their best chance denied by Hugo Lloris before half-time.
Meanwhile, in the same group Arjen Robben scored one goal and set up another as the Netherlands kept alive their slender hopes of reaching the finals with a 3-1 victory over Belarus.
The result leaves the Dutch on 16 points from nine matches, three behind second-placed Sweden, who they face in Amsterdam tomorrow in the final Grouo A fixture.
But they will need to make up a 12-goal deficit on the Swedes if they are to make the playoffs.
Sweden have a vastly superior goal difference, and the Netherlands' - runners-up three times -participation in Russia looks highly unlikely.