Cheers in Newcastle, taunts on Albufeira's Strip

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of England fans were involved in a tense stand-off with police in Albufeira last night following their team's 3-0 victory over Switzerland. Minutes after the final whistle, riot police moved in to contain fans drinking outside bars on the notorious "Strip", the scene of rioting earlier this week. The England fans reacted by taunting the police.

Bare-chested supporters clutching plastic lager glasses played football on the street and hailed their hero, Wayne Rooney, with chants of his name.

A steady stream of fans had been arriving in central Albufeira from across the Algarve since lunchtime and by the 5pm kick-off the Praia do Ouro beach, 300 metres down the hill, had emptied of English.

The result presented a dilemma for some fans. Gary Sedgers, 34, from north London, said: "I can't make up my mind whether to sell my ticket for the next game against Croatia in Lisbon, which I could probably get £300 for. That would pay for another week in Albufeira, which is perfect for the football fan.''

There was initially no trouble among the fans, although families dining in neighbouring restaurants were dismayed at anti-German and anti-Irish chants.

The police presence during the game was also minimal. The only police who could be seen were a few British plain-clothes officers who could be seen observing fans from nearby.

Wednesday night in Albufeira had been quiet, with locals suggesting that several thousand supporters had made the six-hour car journey north to Coimbra, where England played. Following a week in which 55 England fans were arrested in the town, there appeared to be a growing antipathy towards them among some local traders and holidaying families.

Such is the concern of renewed late-night violence that the tour operator Thomson has posted leaflets to its customers in the resort urging them not to venture on to "The Strip'' after midnight.

Gary and Jane Newton, from Grantham, who are holidaying with their eight-year-old daughter, Ellie, said: "We never go out at night. It's a disgrace if you can't watch a football match without this sort of thing going on.''

Meanwhile, in the UK, thousands of people left work early to watch the game. At bars in Bristol, fans were celebrating. Jonathan Evans, 23, a bank clerk, said: "That was just the tonic we needed. Everyone knows we were robbed in the French game. I'm certain we can go all the way now.

"The Swiss never stood a chance. Rooney and the boys were too good for them."

Kenneth Street, 32, a teacher, said: "Bring on the French: we can beat anyone! It wasn't the prettiest of performances, but the result was the most important thing."

Paula Barry, 34, a mother of two, said: "I was worried in the first half; I thought it was going to be the same old story. But we seemed to really go for it and enjoy ourselves in the second half.

At Royal Ascot in Berkshire, punters took time out from Ladies' Day to watch the game on televisions in bars around the course. Angela Marshall, 30, a charity fundraiser from Bushey, Hertfordshire, opted for a patriotic red and white England hat.

In one of the bars in the champagne tent, John Slack, 54, of Barnet, Hertfordshire, watched the match, in his black top hat and tails. "It's more important than racing: that happens every day. This is once every four years," he said.

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