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England fans join patriotic Russians in Moscow pub for World Cup opener

Luke Fern and Angus Lawless joined Russian football fans at the Union Jack English Pub, near Red Square.

Two England fans joined patriotic Russians to watch the opening World Cup game in a bar in Moscow.

Luke Fern, 22, and his friend Angus Lawless perched at the bar in the Union Jack English Pub, about 10 minutes from Red Square, as Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Several burly Russian fans stood for the national anthem as it played moments before kick off.

The small bar, decked out with scarves from clubs around the world, including Arsenal and Manchester City, rocked louder with each celebration as Russia scored two first-half goals and three in the second half.

There was laughter as the cameras showed Russian president Vladimir Putin shrugging at Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

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It was a day to remember for Russian football fans (Aaron Chown/PA)

The sport pub, which had five televisions, also had empty whisky boxes stuck to the ceiling and stickers from Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia ultras and CSKA Sofia “animals” attached to the fridge.

Mr Lawless, 23, from Stockport, said: “Coming out here, there’s a lot of talk in the press that it’s a horrendous place, the World Cup from hell, but we’re having a great time.

“Everyone’s having a good laugh with each other, Australians, Russians, Colombians, Peruvians.”

Asked if he was concerned about reports of fears of violence following the attacks by Russian fans in Marseille during Euro 2016, he said: “There was a bit from my parents.

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England play Tunisia on Monday (Aaron Chown/PA)

“But do you know what? As long as you behave yourself, you’re not an idiot, you just come out here for a good time, everyone from all four corners of the world to watch football, we’re not concerned.”

The pair will travel by train for more than 20 hours to Volgograd on Friday ahead of England’s first game against Tunisia on Monday before heading to Nizhny Novgorod for the second match against Panama.

But they were unable to secure tickets to the Belgium game and plan to watch it in Moscow.

And they vowed to show their team colours by wearing “retro” shirts.

“I like to see us as a bit of a dark horse,” Mr Lawless said, when asked about England’s chances.

“Last 16 should be a minimum, looking for a quarter-final and anything above a quarter-final is a bonus.”

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