With reigning world and European champions Spain held to a shock 1-1 draw by Finland Les Bleus moved two points clear at the top of the group before the two teams meet at the Stade de France on Tuesday.
Despite Didier Deschamps' men controlling possession, it took them until first-half stoppage time to take the lead through Olivier Giroud's header.
But goals early in the second half from the outstanding Mathieu Valbuena and Franck Ribery put them in control before Alexander Kobakhidze got one back for the visitors.
Spain dropped points in Gijon despite taking a 49th-minute lead through Sergio Ramos - on his 100th appearance for his country - with Teemu Pukki hitting back for Finland 12 minutes from time.
Germany remain an unstoppable force in Group C as they brushed aside Kazakhstan 3-0 away with goals from Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller.
The win takes them five points clear after closest rivals Sweden and the Republic of Ireland played out a goalless draw in Stockholm.
Sweden are second with eight points, while Ireland have seven, dropping to fourth on goal difference after Austria routed the Faroe Islands 6-0 in Vienna.
Philipp Hosiner had an early brace before further goals from Andreas Ivanschitz, Zlatko Junuzovic, David Alaba and Gyorgy Garics sealed the win.
England recorded their biggest World Cup qualifying win in history as they thrashed San Marino 8-0 in Serravalle.
An Alessandro Della own goal started it before further strikes from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jermain Defoe, Ashley Young and skipper Frank Lampard in the first half, and Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Defoe again after the break.
Montenegro, who face England on Tuesday, remain two points clear in Group H after edging out Moldova 1-0 despite playing most of the second half with 10 men.
Milorad Pekovic saw red soon after the restart, but Mirko Vucinic's late winner got the points.
Also in the group, Ukraine recorded their first win of the campaign beating Poland 3-1 in Warsaw.
Portugal kept up their reputation for making qualification look difficult as they needed Fabio Coentrao's last-minute goal to come from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 in Israel.
Bruno Alves gave them a second-minute lead, but Tomer Hemed, Eden Ben Basat and Null Gershon turned it around, only for Helder Postiga and Coentrao to even things up.
The result leaves both sides on eight points in the group, with Israel shading things on goal difference.
Russia are the runaway leaders with 12 points, but their match away to Northern Ireland was postponed until Saturday due to heavy snow in Belfast, while minnows Luxembourg and Azerbaijan drew 0-0.
Croatia claimed a comfortable 2-0 win over Serbia in the first meeting between the two sides since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
Although there were fears surrounding the match, it passed off peacefully and was settled by goals from Mario Mandzukic and Ivica Olic.
Belgium lead the group on goal difference from Croatia after winning 2-0 in Macedonia with goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, the latter a penalty.
At the bottom of the group, Wales came from behind to beat Scotland 2-1 at Hampden Park, with Aaron Ramsey's 70th-minute penalty quickly followed by Hal Robson-Kanu's header to wipe out Grant Hanley's opener after the Scots had Robert Snodgrass sent off.
Ramsey was also sent off late on.
Aleksandar Tonev scored a hat-trick as Bulgaria consolidated second place in Group B by hitting bottom side Malta for six in Sofia.
Ivelin Popov, Emil Gargorov and Ivan Ivanov also got on the scoresheet as Bulgaria remained Italy's closest challengers in the pool.
Denmark got their first win with goals from Andreas Cornelius, Simon Kjaer and Niki Zimling defeating Czech Republic 3-0.
Holland recorded their 13th consecutive World Cup qualifying victory, beating Estonia 3-0, to stay on course in Group D.
All the goals came in the second half through Rafael van der Vaart, Robin van Persie and Ruben Schaken.
That sends them five points clear after Hungary were held 2-2 by Romania, who equalised for the second time in the third minute of stoppage time.
Balazs Dzsudzsak's penalty in the 70th minute had looked set to give the hosts victory, coming just three minutes after Adrian Mutu scored Romania's first equaliser with a penalty of his own to cancel out Vilmos Vanczak's opener.
But substitute Alexandru Chipicu scored at the death.
Turkey breathed life back into their fading qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory over minnows Andorra, with Selcuk Inan and Burak Yilmaz getting the goals.
In Group E, Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson scored both goals to sink Slovenia 2-1 and keep Iceland's hopes of World Cup qualification alive.
Sigurdsson cancelled out Milivoje Novakovic's opener with a 55th-minute free-kick, and then lashed home the winner 12 minutes from time.
Norway slipped to fourth place after losing 1-0 at home to Albania, Hamdi Salihi getting the goal in the 67th minute.
Edin Dzeko scored twice as Bosnia-Herzegovina brushed aside Greece 3-1 in their top-of-the-table clash in Group G, sending them three points clear.
Dzeko struck either side of Vedad Ibisevic's goal, while Theofanis Gekas had a late consolation for Greece.
Lithuania ground out a creditable 1-1 draw in Zilina to deny Slovakia a share of second place in the group, with Jan Durica cancelling out Darvydas Sernas' opener.
Latvia missed a penalty as Liechtenstein claimed their first point in a 1-1 draw.
Michele Polverino's opener briefly had Liechtenstein on track for a first World Cup win since 2005 but Aleksandrs Cauna's free-kick dragged Latvia back into the tie.
The same player saw his second-half penalty saved, however, and Latvia stay fifth in the group behind Lithuania and Slovakia.
Friday's Results (Selected Match Reports)
Czech Republic 0-3 Denmark Bulgaria 6-0 Malta
Holland 3-0 Estonia Andorra 0-2 Turkey
Hungary 2-2 Romania
Slovenia 1-2 Iceland
Norway 0-1 Albania
Israel 3-3 Portugal Luxembourg 0-0 Azerbaijan
Liechtenstein 1-1 Latvia
Slovakia 1-1 Lithuania
Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1 Greece
San Marino 0-8 England Moldova 0-1 Montenegro
Poland 1-3 Ukraine
Spain 1-1 Finland France 3-1 Georgia