'We're going all the way' - belief (and beer) flows across land

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The Independent Online

Millions of England football fans rejoiced in pubs and town squares across the country last night making confident, if sometimes slightly inebriated, predictions about England's prospects in Euro 2004 after last night's victory over Croatia.

In Newcastle, thousands crammed into pubs to watch the action. Mark James, 24, of Gateshead, said: "I think we can go on to win it now. We fear no one and with Rooney on form we're a match for anyone. I'm trying not to get carried away, just like all those times before, but I've got a really good feeling about this. We played well against the French, bossed the Swiss and now we're through to the quarter-finals. This could be our year."

Brian Wilson, 37, of Sunderland, said: "Wayne Rooney is the player of the tournament, he took his goals like a dream. He's so fast and strong but he's got a really cool head on his shoulders."

John Miller, 31, of Durham, said: "We've not set the world alight yet and we're still through. Our best is to come and we've already shown we can out-perform the best team in the tournament for 90 minutes.

"We'll breeze through the quarters and, after that, anything can happen. Rooney is phenomenal, he's going to be the best player in the world and maybe the greatest player England have ever had."

In Bristol, fans were jumping for joy. At Henry Africa's Hothouse, fans predicted a rematch with the French. Emily Palmer, a beautician from Bristol, said "We look like champions already. Wayne Rooney is a sensation. Bring on the French,"

Justin Harper, 28, a personnel manager said that the whole team played like "heroes". Mr Harper said: "What a performance, the England side was pure dynamite. Rooney is undoubtedly a superb player, but I think the whole team deserves recognition for their skill and determination."

Thousands jumped up and down in Leeds' Millennium Square after seeing Scholes, Rooney and Lampard score on the big screen.

Bars in London were packed and pumping during and after the match but street celebrations were muted by some inclement weather.

Rose Blake, of Chiswick, west London, and Clare Rowen, from Hammersmith, both 17-year-old AS level students said they had been confident of the result.

''It was wicked. I knew England would do it. We weren't worried with the first goal because there was still 85 minutes to go,'' said Ms Blake.

Andy Sharp, 23, a joiner, who was wearing an England strip, who hails from Hull, talked wistfully about wanting to be in Portugal for the celebrations as he savoured the victory in a West End pub.

"It didn't look really good in the first half but I still knew they would win. I'm going to get some drinks in tonight and just enjoy it. I really wished I could have been there tonight,'' he said.

It was a more sombre story in the Cadogan Arms, just half a mile from Chelsea's ground in west London where 150 Croatians gathered to celebrate the first goal and then commiserate as the match slipped away.

Croatia's early goal led to ironic chants of "It's going home, England's going home" but the England fans who had taken over the downstairs area of the pub were able to have the last laugh. The top floor of the pub was rocked by a blast of noise in the fifth minute as supporters saw Niko Kovac's score. Girls clambered on to tables to dance and loud heckling could be heard from Croatian fans as Sven Goran Eriksson was shown with head in hands. But as the game progressed, and England scored again and again, the noise levels on the two floors was gradually reversed.

Geoff Noden, 27, an England supporter sitting beside his Croatian girlfriend, Marina Pusic, 26, joked: "I cheered for England tonight. There is going to be friction between us later.''

Mark Joves, 33, who was born in Croatia but raised in England said: "I don't know which part of this bar to stand in. My loyalties are divided.''