First came the beer, then the delirium and, as sure as Harry Kane in front of goal, the collective hangover.
Thousands of England fans celebrated through the night as the Three Lions sailed through to the Euro 2020 semi-final with a 4-0 drubbing of Ukraine.
In Piccadilly Circus in London, crowds scaled the Shaftesbury memorial fountain while thousands gathered in the official fan park in nearby Trafalgar Square. Scuffles with police broke out in Leicester Square as the evening wore on.
Coronavirus travel restrictions meant that only 2,500 England fans made it to Rome for the quarter-final match, most of whom were expatriates who live in Italy or neighbouring countries.
Uefa, the administrative body for European football, had cancelled all tickets sold since Monday to England supporters who live in the UK for fear that people would attempt to flout the five-day coronavirus quarantine rule in place for travellers arriving from Britain.
The warm July weather meant beer gardens and many city centres were packed in the run-up to Sunday’s 8pm kick-off.
In Manchester, hundreds of fans sang “Football’s Coming Home” in the city’s Northern Quarter and raucous celebrations continued into the small hours in Newcastle.
Jeff Pedley, 35, a teacher from Beverley, east Yorkshire, was one of the lucky fans inside Rome’s Stadio Olimpico for the match. He described it as the “best game I’ve ever been to” and told the PA Media news agency: “I started a chant at one stage: ‘Is this Wembley in disguise?’, because as the game went on it started to feel more and more like home.
“So many passionate and proud England fans. I had to pinch myself and soak it up. I think we all realised winning 4-0 in a quarter-final does not come along often, whoever you are.”
England’s win set up a clash with Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday night, with more than 60,000 fans expected to attend as restrictions on capacity are due to be eased.
This could lead to some of the largest crowds in the UK since the start of the pandemic. All ticket holders will be required to have a negative coronavirus test or provide proof of having had two doses of a vaccine. The final, next Sunday, is also at Wembley.