England fans are celebrating a 1-0 lead in a party atmosphere in Naples after hours of drinking in the sun at tonight’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy.
Three Lions supporters have traveled in large numbers to Italy’s third-largest city ahead of what is a decisive game for both teams seeking to qualify for next summer’s tournament in Germany.
Photos from Naples early on Thursday showed English fans basking in the Mediterranean sunshine in the hours before kick-off.
And their good spirits have continued throughout the match, with the Three Lions taking an early first-half lead after Declan Rice’s netted a corner kick, prompting scenes of jubilation among the traveling support.
Local government officials had imposed a ban on alcohol amid fears of possible violence between the two sets of fans, but there was no sign these rules were being followed as police allowed English supporters to drink openly.
Fans created a party atmosphere by cheering and throwing flares in the center of Naples
Despite the local ban on alcohol, many Three Lions fans have been seen drinking beer under the watchful eye of the police.
England fans celebrate after the Three Lions took the lead against Italy in Naples on Thursday night.
English fans standing on top of the stands of the Diego Armando Maradona stadium before the start of tonight’s match against Italy
It is the first time the teams have met since the Euro 2020 final, which the Azzurri won on penalties at Wembley in 2021.
Both national teams are looking to bounce back from recent disappointments – it’s England’s first game since losing to France in the World Cup quarter-final in December, while Italy failed to qualify for the tournament.
The match at the 54,726-capacity Estadio Diego Armando Maradona sees both teams looking to get the Group C qualification off to the best possible start.
Before the game, the locals were indifferent to the English fans, although the Italian media had warned that the ‘hooligans’ were on the way and that the city had to prepare.
However, there were no signs of police enforcing these rules, and many English fans were seen drinking beer in the historic city at the foot of Mount Vesuvius.
Despite the alcohol ban, many venues made extra deliveries to keep up with thirsty England fans as the cloud lifted and warm spring sunshine blanketed the city.
One café owner said: ‘They always advertise a ban on alcohol, but it is rarely observed. This is good for business. I’m having my best income since lockdown.
England fans were seen collecting empty beer bottles and helping staff clean up the harborside square.
Even local media questioned the enforcement of the alcohol ban, as one website posted footage of England fans openly drinking outside bars.
Declan Rice celebrates after putting England 1-0 up against Italy in the Euro 2024 qualifier in Naples tonight
Two English fans raise a glass over beer near Castel Nuovo in Naples this afternoon.
Fans applaud as they stand in front of an England flag in Naples ahead of tonight’s European Championship qualifying match.
Some fans have been on best behavior by ordering their empty beer bottles after hours of drinking in the sun.
England fans cheer as the flares are lit before kick-off at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples tonight
A man puts used beer battles into a bag as England fans gather in central Naples this afternoon
Thousands of England fans traveled to Italy for tonight’s game, many enjoying drinks in the Mediterranean sunshine.
Despite local officials banning the sale of alcohol for fear of vandalism, many fans have had no problem getting beer before kick-off.
Middlesbrough FC fans carry a St George flag as they walk through Naples on Thursday afternoon
Bury FC supporters carry a Union Jack flag as they drink and relax before kick-off.
An England fan lies on a bench in central Naples on Thursday afternoon before the game.
Bags and bottles of beer lie on the ground in Naples as English fans head to the match
Italy and England half and half scarves on sale at a stall outside the stadium before tonight’s game.
The headline read: “In Naples, no one seems to be abiding by the alcohol ban – in fact everyone is toasting Italy against England.”
No one from Naples city hall or the police could immediately comment on the blatant mockery when contacted by MailOnline.
The city’s alcohol ban is in effect from 7am until midnight after the game, and Italian police and municipal authorities hope to stamp out the trouble.
More than 2,500 Tres Leones supporters are at the Diego Maradona stadium and the visiting section is said to be “sold out” in what has been called a “high risk” game.
However, the journey has not been smooth sailing for some, with reports on social media that some England fans were directed onto buses which then went in the opposite direction of the stadium.
There is unrest in the city after the battles fought last week after the visit of Eintracht Frankfurt in the Champions League and which also saw police cars set on fire.
On the pitch, England manager Gareth Southgate is hoping for a good start to qualifying for Euro 2024, which takes place in Germany next summer.
The Three Lions have been drawn in Group C with Italy, Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta.