England fans routed by Russians in friendly Red Square encounter


England fans were on the wrong end of a Russian onslaught as they were comprehensively beaten in a friendly match.

Hundreds gathered to watch England fans take on Russia supporters in a five-a-side match in central Moscow on the eve of the Three Lions' World Cup last 16 much against Colombia.

Crowds packed into a fan zone in Red Square to watch the kickabout, in which a group of around 20 Englishmen took on a Russian side including three women.

There were some tasty tackles and one bizarre moment when the Russian goalkeeper tackled an England player to the ground after a perceived foul earlier on.

Russia World Cup 2018
Russia World Cup 2018

Among the players was Brendan Collins, 30, who said he was invited to play in the "game for friendship" as part of an initiative to combat the negative image of some elements of both fan groups.

Mr Collins, who is originally from Manchester but has lived in Stavropol for 18 months and Russia on and off for five years, said: "A lot of media has portrayed that English fans are thugs and there were a lot problems in Marseille.

"So there was a tournament to address that a little bit and we got destroyed 15-1.

"They are all good sports, it was really competitive until the second half when it was 2-1 and we let it go a little bit."

Russia World Cup 2018
Russia World Cup 2018

He said the Russian welcome for football fans had been "fantastic".

"The people have welcomed us with open arms, everywhere we go, hugs, drinks, parties," he said.

He predicted England would beat Colombia 2-1, adding: "We're going all the way to the final, football's coming home."

Fellow England fan Matt Smith, 28, from Burnley, who watched the game in the fan area, was also confident of a Three Lions victory.

The Burnley fan, who has attended every England game so far, said: "It'll be tougher than everyone expects, they've got some really good individual players and as we've seen by the opening fixtures in the round of 16 so far, anything can happen.

Russia World Cup 2018
Russia World Cup 2018

"We've just got to concentrate on doing the job and focus really.

"We can't afford to give away a scrappy goal like we did against Panama against a team in the later rounds.

"Now that the round of 16 started it's started to look like there is no better route.

"Before the round of 16 you would have said we wanted this half of the draw, you are talking Switzerland and Sweden being your biggest competition.

"I suppose it's worked about all right and we're still going to win it."

Russia World Cup 2018
Russia World Cup 2018

"I've not spent all this money for nothing - it's not the cheapest."

Mr Smith said he enjoyed witnessing the celebrations in Moscow after the nation's victory against Spain on penalties, with many tens of thousands out on the streets until the early hours of the morning.

He said: "The Russians like to drink, especially when they've got a reason for it.

"I think we'd have done the same.

"It was noise everywhere on the streets until two or three in the morning.

"I'm not sure I've seen anything like it."