England fans given plenty to cheer about with 6-1 victory over Panama
Almost 4,000 England fans were thought to be in the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.
England’s supporters beat the heat as the Three Lions booked their place in the last 16 after a fiery-tempered World Cup group game.
Nizhny Novgorod Stadium was a cauldron of noise throughout as the national team powered to a 6-1 win over debutants Panama.
The mercury peaked at 32C in the Russian city, more than 250 miles east of Moscow, but the team and the fans showed little sign their energy was being sapped.
While the midges that plagued the team during the previous match against Tunisia in Volgograd were notable by their absence, there were more England fans in the ground than last time.
The Football Association said 2,080 tickets were sold through the official England Supporters Travel Club with an additional 1,680 sold by Fifa to fans with UK addresses, making 3,760 in total.
The stadium erupted when John Stones headed in the early opening goal and were in raptures ever since, singing “football’s coming home” and “England’s going all the way” on each occasion England had the ball in the back of the net.
Television pictures showed the trio of fans who make up the England Band, Steve Holmes, John Hemmingham and Steve Wood, all from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, celebrating wildly, instruments held high.
Wayne Hensby, 51, originally from Grimsby but who now lives in Moscow, said: “Brilliant – we expected to win but to get six goals, great result.
“I think we’ll get to the quarter finals maybe semis, that’s what I’m expecting, if not all the way. There’s good morale between the team.”
Paul Gratton, 54, originally from Stoke but living in Brisbane, Australia, said: “It was fantastic, England played really well.
“It was like they were playing Port Vale. England could go all the way, they’re the surprise package.”
Mr Gratton said England captain Harry Kane was a “legend” after netting a hat-trick.
His son Liam Gratton, 21, from Beechworth, Victoria in Australia, added: “They played an amazing game – Panama didn’t know what hit them.”
Paul Fitton, 39,from Manchester, said: “Amazing, brilliant. Well, I went to the Iceland game last time when we got beat so it beats that.
“The atmosphere in Russia has been brilliant, the whole time.
“I thought we might have made hard work of it today – I thought we’d win but I didn’t think we’d win so convincingly as that.”
Marcus Campbell, 26, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, said: “The atmosphere was very good – it was weird going into a game with not that much pressure after that last minute winner.
“Southgate’s got the team playing really, really well. They play attacking football, got players who create, deliver – it’s pretty good.
“Of course they can go all the way, you’re not here if you don’t believe.”
Whether through exertion or excitement, many replica shirts soon came off and were twirled around heads.
Pockets of Panama supporters, who had little to cheer about for most of the game, were delighted to have opened their World Cup scoring account late on.
But there was a sour note, when a group of LGBT England fans were told to take down their St George’s Cross with a rainbow stripe before the match.
Among them was Di Cunningham, 56, from Norwich, who co-founded the Three Lions Pride group.
Banner’s been taken down by a supervisor “those colours not allowed in the stadium”— 3LIONSPRIDE 🌈🦁🦁🦁⚽️🏴🏳️🌈 (@3Lionspride) June 24, 2018
Their account tweeted: “Banner’s been taken down by a supervisor ‘those colours not allowed in the stadium’.”
The flag was later reinstated shortly afterward and was captured on television cameras as England celebrated a goal.