LA PAZ – France secured a spot at next year's European Championship after playmaker Samir Nasri converted a penalty Tuesday to salvage a 1-1 draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina in their final qualifier.
Bosnia needed a win to advance directly and striker Edin Dzeko opened the scoring with a curling shot from the edge of the box in the 40th minute. But Nasri was brought down inside the area and converted the spot kick in the 78th.
France stayed top of Group D, one point ahead of Bosnia, which will go into a playoff next month for a spot at next year's tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Bosnia was the more daring side in the first half while France struggled to match its opponents' intensity, before raising its game after the break.
''I was shocked by our mistakes, even though Bosnia created a lot of problems for us,'' France coach Laurent Blanc said. ''When you play with the handbrake (on), you make a lot of mistakes and you are dominated. That's what happened in the first half.''
''While the first half was disappointing, the second half was heart-warming. What I liked was the players' reaction. If they had not reacted tonight, we would be talking about the playoffs.''
In the opening minutes Bosnia put France under pressure, dominating possession and pressing the hosts back into their own half.
Lazio midfielder Senad Lulic took advantage of a shaky France defense to win the ball inside the area after five minutes but fired wide from 12 yards.
France threatened on a counterattack in the ninth, when Loic Remy went clean through on goal, but a poor touch allowed goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic to collect the ball.
France needed only a draw to qualify and consequently looked passive on the pitch.
As Bosnia pushed hard for the opening goal, Dzeko cut inside Adil Rami in the 18th only to shoot straight at goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Bosnia again tested the France defense on a counterattack in the 24th. Roma playmaker Miralem Pjanic slipped a through ball to Dzeko but the Manchester City striker missed the target from a good position.
But Dzeko finally gave Bosnia the lead in the 40th with a curling shot following a quickly taken free kick.
Having gone a goal up, Bosnia allowed France to take the initiative in the second half.
Remy cut inside to drag his shot wide in the 57th before Blanc adopted a more offensive approach by replacing ineffective pair Florent Malouda and Yohan Cabaye with midfielder Marvin Martin and striker Kevin Gameiro in the 61st.
France's best chances came from set pieces, with Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, a halftime replacement for the injured Hasagic, twice preserving his team's lead. Begovic tipped a low free kick from Martin around the post in the 69th, before palming the ball on to the bar following Nasri's set-piece effort from 25 yards.
Bosnia had a chance to double the lead in the 75th but again Dzeko failed to beat Lloris - and three minutes later France was level. Nasri sent Begovic the wrong way from 12 yards, converting the penalty he had won after being fouled by Bosnia captain Emir Spahic.
France could have scored a second goal in the closing minutes but Nasri had a chip saved by Begovic and Gameiro failed to find the target from close range.
''We showed that we have a very good team,'' Bosnia coach Safet Susic said. ''We took control of the match in the first 60 minutes, then our form dropped in the last 30.''
France : Hugo Lloris, Anthony Reveillere, Adil Rami, Eric Abidal, Patrice Evra, Yohan Cabaye (Kevin Gameiro, 61), Yann M'Vila, Samir Nasri, Jeremy Menez, Florent Malouda (Marvin Martin, 61), Loic Remy (Alou Diarra, 82).
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Kenan Hasagic (Asmir Begovic, 46), Mensur Mujdza (Darko Maletic, 61), Emir Spahic, Boris Pandza, Sasa Papac, Elvir Rahimic, Zvjezdan Misimovic, Haris Medunjanin (Adnan Zahirovic, 71), Miralem Pjanic, Senad Lulic, Edin Dzeko.