A carnival atmosphere took over London last night as jubilant England fans took to the streets, pubs, fan squares and roofs to celebrate.
The national team swept to a emphatic two-goal victory against Germany in their Round of 16 match at Wembley last night, putting them on the path to Euro 2020 glory.
Outside – in designated fan zones, pub beer gardens and parks – there was little evidence that the tournament was being held in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Euros have been delayed from last summer as Covid-19 swept the globe, yet the customary reactions to an England goal – strangers hugging each other and drinks being hurled high into the air – showed no sign of being tempered.
And a party atmosphere broke out in Trafalgar Square in London after England scored their second goal.
Several men ripped off their shirts and started to dance on the tables, much to the annoyance of security.
Later, fans took to the streets of London to celebrate, with crowds gathering in Leicester Square before dozens of supporters climbed up on to the Shaftesbury Fountain in Piccadilly Circus.
The Metropolitan Police said three people had been arrested at Wembley, one for racially aggravated common assault, and two for fraud by false representation.
And in Croydon, Stormzy was among the large crowd watching the game.
Sue Bedding, 59, an NHS worker from Nottingham who watched the game from Trafalgar Square, said: “I’m made up, it’s been an absolutely brilliant night.
“I remember the (Euro) 96 match and I was completely gutted when we lost, so now I’m quite optimistic for the rest of the Euros.”
Pubs swelled with supporters wearing replica football strips in the hours leading up to kick-off, while St George’s flags billowed in the mid-summer breeze as diehard and fair-weather fans alike enjoyed the feel-good spirit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is not known to have a keen interest in football, tweeted after the game: “Well done England!
“We’re all behind you – bring it home!”
England fan Matt Champion, from Bristol – who was celebrating his 32nd birthday, told the PA news agency: “It’s unbelievable, I never saw this coming.
“I bought a cigar in anticipation for the win from Cuba, I’m excited to smoke it.
“I’m very, very happy. This is the best birthday party I could have ever organised.”
Fellow supporter Jay Gittelmon, 20, from north-west London, said of Sterling’s opening goal: “I’ve never felt anything like that, it’s the best moment of my life.
“I had to use my inhaler as I ran out of breath.”
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and Tottenham striker Harry Kane struck twice within 11 minutes following a tense first half, securing a memorable victory over Germany in the last-16 tie at Wembley.
They will play either Sweden or the Ukraine – both relative outsiders – in a quarter-final showdown on Saturday, with some bookmakers now installing England as new tournament favourites.
An animated Duke of Cambridge was among the 40,000 supporters who roared England to a historic win inside Wembley on Tuesday evening – the FA president throwing his arms aloft alongside his seven-year-old son, Prince George, and the Duchess of Cambridge, as each goal went in.
The hopeful disposition among England supporters has been boosted by an unbeaten, if unspectacular, canter through the group stages of the competition without conceding a goal.
Many England supporters were not born the last time England faced Germany in the European Championships, in a Euro 96 semi-final.
On Tuesday, Southgate, now managing the national team, reacted with his customary composure as his side went ahead.