Italy’s hopes of reaching the Euro 2008 finals received a massive boost as Group B leaders Scotland were beaten in Georgia. But France took advantage of the slip-up to take top spot ahead of November's final matches.
The Azzurri face the Scots in Glasgow and host the Faroe Islands next month, and the result in Tbilisi tonight means Roberto Donadoni’s men only need four points from their final two games to secure a place in Austria and Switzerland.
The World champions, who beat 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa 2-0 in a friendly in Siena thanks to a brace from Cristiano Lucarelli, now drop down to third, but with a game in hand on their rivals.
Georgia, who lost 2-0 in Italy last Saturday, had only previously defeated the Faroe Islands in qualifying. But it was a 17-year-old Empoli player – who has never featured for the Tuscan side in Serie A – who gave Georgia the lead, Levan Mchelidze rising to nod in a corner kick.
James McFadden had strong penalty appeals waved away for the visitors before the Georgians doubled their lead when David Siradze met David Kvirkvelia’s low cross from the left.
Scotland now need to beat the Azzurri in their final game on November 17 to qualify, while a draw will only be enough if Italy or France slip-up in their final games on November 21.
France took advantage of Scotland's defeat to take top spot with a 2-0 win over Lithuania in Nantes.
Les Bleus striker Thierry Henry scored twice in the space of two second-half minutes to secure three points for Raymond Domenech's side and pass Michel Platini to become France's record goalscorer.
The French dominated throughout but Lithuania held on until Henry netted the opener in the 79th minute and quickly followed it up with his second of the night moments later.
France now need just a point in their final game against Ukraine in Kiev on November 21 to qualify.
In the groups other game, Ukraine crushed Faroe Islands 5-0 at the Olympic Stadium. Maxim Kalinichenko put Ukraine ahead on 40 minutes and his goal was quickly followed by two Oleg Gusev strikes before half-time. Kalinichenko added his second shortly after after the break before completing his hat-trick on the hour-mark.
Italy 2-0 South Africa
GROUP B RESULTS:
France 2-0 Lithuania
Georgia 2-0 Scotland
Ukraine 5-0 Faroe Islands
GROUP B TABLE:
 FRA - PLD: 11 - PTS: 25
 SCO - PLD: 11 - PTS: 24
 ITA - PLD: 10 - PTS: 23
 UKR - PLD: 10 - PTS: 16
 LIT - PLD: 10 - PTS: 10
 GEO - PLD: 11 - PTS: 10
 FAR - PLD: 11 - PTS: 00
GROUP B REMAINING FIXTURES:
[17-11-2007] Lithuania-Ukraine, Scotland-Italy.
[21-11-2007] Georgia-Lithuania, Italy-Faroe Islands, Ukraine-France.