France and Germany played out a friendly in Paris but events outside the stadium soon cast a shadow over the match.
Loud explosions were heard near the Stade de France, with police also saying that at least 18 people had been killed following “multiple shootings”.
Two unsettlingly loud explosions appeared to emanate from outside the national stadium in the northern Paris suburb of Saint Denis and French president Francois Hollande, who was in attendance, left the stadium early amid the reports of shootings in central Paris and of an ongoing hostage crisis in the Bataclan concert venue.
— Anthony Martial (@AnthonyMartial) November 14, 2015
Despite that, very few, if any, of the crowd of close to 80,000 at the stadium appeared to be aware of any drama as they celebrated goals by Olivier Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac late in either half of the match.
However, with tight security building up around the stadium, confusion took hold after the final whistle.
With exit points being limited, large numbers of fans invaded the pitch, although there was no visible sense of panic.
All this followed events earlier in the day as the German team were evacuated from their hotel in the west of Paris following a bomb scare. Despite that, the game started as planned and France claimed the victory in the first meeting of the nations since Germany won 1-0 in a World Cup quarter-final in Rio de Janeiro in July 2014.
Little of note happened on the field in the first half hour and the atmosphere became somewhat surreal when the explosions were heard.
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Martin O’Neill has admitted he would be open to extending his contract as Republic of Ireland manager.
The 63-year-old is understood to have been offered an extension to the two-year deal he signed in November 2013 regardless of whether he steers the nation to the Euro 2016 finals via a play-off double-header against Bosnia-Herzegovina over the next few days.
O’Neill confirmed the Football Association of Ireland wanted him to stay, and that he was happy to talk to chief executive John Delaney about it.
He said: “Absolutely, I am open to it. We had a conversation after Scotland and John was very supportive, felt as if this is the way we want to go forward, and that was very pleasing to hear.
“We haven’t really talked about it since, but I haven’t been pressing because there are actually very important things to deal with. “If we could qualify, that would be great – I would be delighted to do that if that’s the case. But if we didn’t qualify, John and myself will sit down and see where we go.
“I think John and the board would want it to continue and I have enjoyed it immensely. Sometime in the new year – probably the earlier, the better – John and I would sit and have a discussion.”
Skipper Robbie Keane insisted it would be “silly” for O’Neill’s services not to be retained, with he and assistant Roy Keane having overseen a campaign which could yet pay tangible dividends for the efforts over the last two years.
The LA Galaxy striker said: “From the very start of the campaign, as a group we have grown into it a lot more. It would be silly if the manager didn’t get a new contract – he has obviously done a great job.
“But we certainly want to finish this campaign off now with qualification for France, because we started the campaign off having that goal in our minds and it would certainly be disappointing if we didn’t do it.”
The Republic face Bosnia-Herzegovina in Zenica on Friday night and then again in Dublin three days later.
Having re-kindled their qualification hopes with a shock victory over world champions Germany, defeat in Poland saw an automatic berth snatched from their grasp.
O’Neill believes progress has been made, but knows there is work to be done with Shay Given, John O’Shea and Keane approaching the end of their international careers.
He said: “There is a set of players here well into their thirties who need replacing but we want to replace them with really top-quality younger players.”
Hungary travel to Oslo tonight to take on Norway in one of the other play-off ties, kicking off at 23:45.
Raheem Sterling believes Manchester City and England will reap the benefits of his big-money summer move to the Etihad Stadium.
A prolonged and often ugly episode regarding the 20-year-old’s future came to an end in July when he finally left Liverpool and made the move to the Blues.
City made Sterling the most expensive English player in history and the fleet-footed forward is confident of repaying the eye-watering £49 million (Dh75m) transfer fee – something that bodes well for club and country.
Sterling said: “To go into training every day and see players of that calibre that I am working with, like Vinny (Kompany), Sergio (Aguero), David (Silva), Joe (Hart) – there’s only one thing that you can do and that’s improve with players like that.
“They’ve been around for many years, achieving stuff for many years. I am just happy to be in a squad like that and hopefully I continue my development and win trophies in the future.”
England take on Spain on Friday night in a glamour friendly as they step up their preparations for next summer’s Euro 2016.
Vicente del Bosque has named a strong, experienced squad for the friendly, but will be without Real Madrid star Isco who became the latest player forced to withdraw after club team-mate Sergio Ramos and Atletico Madrid’s Juanfran pulled out on Monday.
Elsewhere on Friday, Germany striker Mario Gomez is poised to play his first international for more than a year against France while Belgium will be without injured Marouane Fellaini against Italy