... meanwhile, down at the tapas bar

Spot on: England end penalty jinx to clinch a place in Euro 96 semi-finals
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The Independent Online
TO find a Spanish bar screening the England-Spain game - which England won 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after a 0-0 draw - took some doing in London yesterday, writes Decca Aitkenhead. "Do you think we're mad?" shrugged one of the many owners apparently scared off by the anti-Spanish tempest whipped up by the tabloids ahead of the European championship quarter-final.

They need not have worried. The scenes upstairs in The Finca tapas bar in Islington were a Euro-idealist's dream. Young Spaniards in team shirts and flags squeezed in past the San Miguel bottle mountain and Marlboro haze - and found themselves watching the match with fans from all over the Continent, including a surprisingly large contingent of English.

"I'd far rather be here than in some West End pub full of Union Jacks and pissed-up nutters," was one London woman's reason for seeking out a Spanish bar to watch her own team.

"I feel really embarrassed for English people," said Katia Lopez, a half-Spanish student from Finland. "The stuff in the papers is so rude and arrogant. For English people it does seem to go way beyond just football."

But amid the Latin whistles, plates of tapas and an over-excited dog wrapped up in Spain's red and yellow flag, the English supporters were magnificently benign. "I'm here with a Spanish friend from work," explained Dominic Derbyshire, 30. " Sure, it's serious - but there's no point getting out of hand."

So, in the interests of Euro-friendly fairness, should Spain not have had a penalty in the second half? "No way, that was no way a penalty. What you talking about?"

However, the English were outnumbered by other Britons - cheering for Spain. "It's the Auld Enemy, isn't it?" winked Andrew Connelly, a 19- year-old Scot, but a lesser show of emnity would have been hard to imagine. The penalty shoot-out over, they all trooped calmly out; from looking at them, you would not have known which side had won and which lost.

Match reports, page 32

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