England 1 Italy 2: Faces of football fans in Leeds tell story

Despair.. and below, joy. PICS: Ross Parry
Despair.. and below, joy. PICS: Ross Parry
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The faces of football fans in Leeds told the story as England endured a frustrating defeat at the hands of Italy in their World Cup opener.

Tens of thousands of people tuned in at homes and pubs across the city as a national audience of 15 million watched the Three Lions show promise but ultimately lose 2-1 in their first game in Brazil on Saturday night.



Supporters sporting St George Cross flags and face paint were an eye-catching presence in the streets and bars in the city centre in the build-up to kick-off.

Tables at Shooters on The Headrow were fully booked long before the game began. The bar’s Twitter account @LeedsShooters caught the atmosphere, tweeting: “This is what we have all been waiting for!”

Scot ‏@michaelmca2108 tweeted: “In Leeds watching England game. The passion is incredible! Makes me jealous!”

At the Skyrack in Headingley there were reports that punters were performing a conga even before kick-off and that staff were expecting twice the normal takings for a Saturday night.

Over the road at The Original Oak pub, fans queued down Otley Road to get in to watch the game on the big screen. Ashley Grindrod tweeted: “Just queued for an hour to get in original oak for the match! Getting in was the best moment of my life.”

Among those also at the pub was former Kaiser Chiefs drummer Nick Hodgson, who tweeted: “The Original Oak is rocking and I’m soaked in beer.”

England equalised through Daniel Sturridge after Claudio Marchisio gave Italy the lead in the first half. But Mario Balotelli won the game for the Italians five minutes into the second half.

Despite the defeat, Leeds United’s Matt Smith reflected the positive mood of many when he tweeted: “England playing some really exciting stuff going forward!”

Leeds East MP Richard Burgon in his office in Seacroft, Leeds, March 2018.  Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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