In pubs, fan zones, and living rooms around the country, hope turned to anguish as England fell on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Fans who had spent the day anticipating the match – and the possibility of winning a first major tournament since 1966 – were left disappointed when the rain began to fall on Sunday night.
Several enraged fans on central London vented their frustrations by breaking bottles, overturning garbage in the street, and kicking the barrier around the Trafalgar Square fan zone.
The Metropolitan Police stated shortly after that they had made 45 arrests while policing the final event.
Despite not having any event tickets or pub reservations, the day began with scenes of excitement as tens of thousands of England fans flocked to central London to soak in the mood – and industrial quantities of alcohol.
While most people were content and chant football anthems, others took use of the occasion to climb buses, lampposts, and traffic lights, set fire to an Italian flag, and even uproot a beautiful tree to throw it across Leicester Square.
A mass of ticketless supporters attempted to press their way into the fan zone in Trafalgar Square, and Kings Cross station was momentarily evacuated due to smoke from flares.
A pair of bouncers stood outside a bar in Soho, allowing fans only by appointment.
“It’ll either be incredibly horrible or really good; either way, the venue will be a disaster,” one predicted.
The streets were already littered with shattered glass, plastic bags, and other trash at the time.
Fans were still pouring out of train terminals on their way to the West End as kick-off loomed.
One newcomer to Waterloo predicted that even the most drunk supporters would “be in bed by the game.”
“Much better this way”
Several fans arrived in Trafalgar Square assuming they’d be able to watch the game on the big screens in the fan zone, only to find out they needed a ticket.
Fans crowded the walls outside the National Gallery, to the north of the square, anxious to acquire a free view of the match in whatever way they could.
Katie, who drove down from Northamptonshire with her daughters, said: “We can’t get in because we can’t get in because we can’t get in because we can’t get in because we can’t get in because we can’t get in because we can’t get in because we can’t get in because we can’t get in because we can’t get in because we can
I’m in desperate need of a f***ing ticket.
England fans gathered on tables in Trafalgar Square as the national anthems were performed, holding their hands to their chests and singing “God Save the Queen.”
Only two minutes later, the entire stadium erupted in applause as Luke Shaw scored the game’s first goal.
Cheers, cries, and screams echoed through the streets, followed by the Three Lions song’s familiar lyrics.
A few disgruntled supporters were seen puking in the street.
At halftime, the chanting of “It’s Coming Home” continued as fireworks were launched in Trafalgar Square.
Fans, on the other hand, became increasingly concerned after Italy tied the game at 1-1 midway through the second half.
The goal stunned the crowd, with some fans clearly shocked and holding their heads in their hands.
The presence of substitute Jack Grealish, whose onscreen appearance drew cheers and screams of “Great Jackie Grealish,” further added to the tense situation.
Supporters remained upbeat as the game progressed to penalties, although security personnel were visible in greater numbers in Trafalgar Square as the game neared its conclusion.
As reaction cops advised some fans to calm down, toilet rolls were hurled.
When the finale eventually arrived, fans reacted in a variety of ways.
Some hugged one other or cheered their team’s accomplishments, while others sobbed on the floor.
Other people vented their anger by smashing bottles and slamming inanimate objects.
Many people trudged away quietly on their lengthy journey back home.
“Is what it is, mate,” sighed one man traveling alone about the outcome.