French fans on both sides of the Channel roared with joy and launched dance moves after their team’s dramatic World Cup quarter-final victory over old rivals England in Qatar on Saturday.
At The Frog and Roast Beef, a packed English-themed pub in Paris whose windows were festooned with flags and St. George’s tricolors, the predominantly French audience erupted with joy and sang “La Marseillaise” at the final whistle.
“It’s brilliant! With the win everything is fine,” a relieved Jean-Pierre Agbo, 50, told AFP after Olivier Giroud’s second-half header and Harry Kane’s missed penalty hit the defending champions a 2-1 victory and a place in the semi-finals.
Another France supporter patted a nearby England supporter, slumped on his desperate friend’s shoulder, in feigned comfort as pop hits and jubilant dancers transformed the pub into a nightclub.
At London’s Zoo Bar, hundreds of French fans danced, whooped and chanted “Bring the cup home” as France edged out their home country.
France fans had booked the pub using a lifestyle app for French people living in the capital, with French fans celebrating later descending on London’s Piccadilly Circus to the roar of La Marseillaise.
“It was a superb match. Now we will have to go out and give it to the English,” said Olivier Airault, 28, who lives with two English flatmates.
Dejected English fans in Paris mourned what might have been after the Three Lions’ dreams of winning a first major title since 1966 were dashed, again.
“Our leadership was better. Any fan will tell you that the referee was biased. A lot of decisions didn’t go our way,” Sam, 26, said after the final whistle.
“They (England) played very well. I’d be very happy if it wasn’t against the French, because I’m English!” said Tim La Fontaine, a 32-year-old IT worker who has lived in France for eight years.
“The French are lovely… but I have to go to the office on Monday!”
“It was a brilliant game. To experience it here in France as the underdog, it was an incredible experience,” added Sarah Turner, 32, saying Kane was under “too much pressure” to take two penalties – he had scored one early. In the second half.
– ‘A match like no other’ –
The friendly rivalry between the English and the French briefly turned violent at the Zoo Bar after Giroud’s winner and Kane’s missed shot, when an overwrought France fan threw his beer at the staff and they dragged him out unceremoniously.
Kane’s second-half equalizing goal had given English fans hope of reaching a third successive major tournament semi-final, to cries of “He’s coming home!” reverberating around Frog and Roastbeef momentarily muted.
England fan Joey Nguyen-Thomas, a 32-year-old publicity worker in Paris, contrasted England’s positive approach with their defeat by Italy in the Euro 2020 final last year.
“We are controlling the game, putting in a good effort. Against Italy, we were defending as soon as we had a goal. Here we really go for it,” enthused 32-year-old England fan Joey Nguyen-Thomas. advertising worker in Paris.
Victor Vion, a 43-year-old Frenchman who has lived in London for seven years, said before the game he was “extremely stressed. France against England is a game like no other, there’s an extra rivalry.”
Etienne Anthony, beaming with French colors painted on his cheeks, told AFP in Paris that he was “excited to beat the English.”
“There is a good-natured rivalry between us. We don’t hate them, but we really like to beat them.”