England fans still optimistic despite World Cup defeat to Belgium
The Three Lions came second in the group after a defeat to the Red Devils.
Defeat to Belgium was not enough to shatter England fans’ dreams of the final as they celebrated the continuation of their World Cup party.
The disappointment of England’s 1-0 loss soon subsided for some supporters in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on Thursday night as they returned to the bar in the centre of the city and sang songs into the early hours.
With all talk of knockout permutations over and a match up against Colombia in Moscow in the last 16 confirmed, the confidence began to flow again for many.
Among the 6,363 England supporters in the stadium was John Campbell.
The 61-year-old, from Bradford on Avon, in Wiltshire, said he hoped to see an England win and would not lose out on bookings in Rostov, the city where the Three Lions’ could have played had they won the group.
“It was poor performance – too many changes which was a bit of a shame,” the Bristol City fan said.
I think it can be at east semi-finals at least now because we’re missing Brazil
“We had flights and accommodation booked in Rostov already so we’ll have to forfeit those. But wherever you go in Russia we’re well received.
“Having seen Colombia this afternoon I don’t think we need to fear them, they were average.
“When we thought we would meet Brazil or Germany I thought quarter-final is as far as we go but I think it can be at east semi-finals at least now because we’re missing Brazil.”
Mr Campbell was joined by friends Steve Mason, 56, from Abbey Wood, in south London and John Farren, 62, from Stapleford Abbotts, in Essex, who all met in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.
Mr Mason, who was dressed as St George, said: “It was disappointing – he didn’t put that team out to win I don’t think.
“He gave them a bit of experience.
“We paid a lot of money when we went to Brazil and we came home after three games. At least we went in to today, even if we lose we’re going to Moscow.
“I don’t get carried away I just take each game as it comes.”
Mr Farren added: “We’ve enjoyed it so far – we’ve loved it in Russia.
“I think we’ll do well.”
Meanwhile, fellow fan Daniel Smith urged the team to “go for it” in the next round, where mistakes could mean an early flight home.
The 29-year-old, from Solihull, West Midlands, said: “We lost a bit of the pace from the first two games.
“The three or four changes he made we didn’t have that zip about us from the first two games.”
He said he had a ticket to the final but said England would need some luck to get there, even though the team ended up in the side of the draw without Brazil, France, Portugal and Argentina.
“It’s hard to call because they think it’s easier but you’re going to have try and play the bigger teams to get into the final,” he said when asked if second place would benefit England’s chances.
It’s knockout football, one game and you’ve got to go for it
“I’m not really too disappointed we finished second because we can beat Colombia, they’re probably the stronger side but after that you never know, get a bit of luck in the draw, a bit of luck on the pitch and you can change then.
“I think quarter final has got to be a minimum then after that you never know.
“It’s knockout football, one game and you’ve got to go for it.”
England will face Group H winners Colombia at Spartak Stadium at 7pm UK time on Tuesday 3 July.