Pinch yourself, it might just be happening. After 90 exhilarating minutes in Rome, which saw England beat Ukraine 4-0 to go into the semi-finals of Euros 2020, it felt as if football might really be coming home.

Gareth Southgate’s team are now just one match away from the country’s first final in an international football tournament since 1966.

For the small number of fans in Rome and the entire nation back home, the final whistle was the signal for an outpouring of joy not seen since, oh, since they beat the Germans last week.

It seems you can get used to this kind of thing after all.

The first throw-your-beer-in-the-air moment came after only 3 mins and 34 seconds, when Harry Kane made it 1-0.

By half time, however, tension was rising, with England unable to capitalise and Ukraine pressing hard.

Then it happened again. A minute after play resumed Harry Maguire headed home. Four minutes later Kane did it again. 3-0. Even Jordan Henderson, who has never scored for England in over 60 games, got in on the act to make it 4-0.

When the ref blew the final whistle to put Ukraine out of their misery, the joy at the Boxpark fan zone near Wembley Stadium and elsewhere was uncontained.

Harry Maguire celebrates England's victory

Credit: Eddie Keogh – The FA

Matt Fergusson, 23, a graphic designer from West London, said: "It feels beautiful. Kane’s going to score the winner in the final, I can feel it."

Devin Jagjavin, 23, who works in real estate investment, spoke for millions when he said: "I’m ecstatic, we’re going all the way. We’ll do Denmark in the semi, no problem. Onto the final, onto Wembley."

Dylan Bhopal, 21, a London student said: "Absolutely unbelievable. The country is ready to unite. I was never worried about tonight."

Fellow student Daniel Hurst, 20, summed up the feeling. "It’s coming home, that’s all you need to know," he said.

Ukraine 0 England 4, Euro 2020 quarter-final

Deprived of the chance to travel to Rome by the pandemic’s travel restrictions, fans raised the roof wherever they could.

From fan zones to front rooms they bellowed with one mighty cry, urging England, Gareth and his boys once more unto the breach.

After a miserable year and more of restrictions, social distancing, lockdowns and event cancellations thousands urged England to maintain their Euros 2020 form and give the nation something to cheer about.

Numerous celebrities voiced their support, with Little Mix tweeting "Good luck tonight lads" and Formula 1’s George Russell posting a picture of himself in an England shirt, saying: "Easy wardrobe choice this morning. Let’s go, @England."

Easy wardrobe choice this morning. Let’s go, @England! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿❤️

— George Russell (@GeorgeRussell63) July 3, 2021

Unable to accompany their partners, England’s WAGS showed their support on social media.

Harry Kane’s wife Katie Goodland shared a picture posing with their daughters Ivy and Vivienne and son Louis in a teepee at their home, while Jordan Pickford’s girlfriend Megan Davison shared a selfie of herself in a mirror with the caption: "Supporting from home", adding: "Come on England."

A happy few did make it to Rome and the Stadio Olimpico, those expat Brits living across mainland Europe who were free to travel without the need to quarantine.

England celebrate reaching Euro2020 semi finals, in Pictures

Anyone travelling from the UK would have needed to spend five days in quarantine and have had a negative post-isolation Covid test to be allowed into the stadium. 

The Italian authorities did not take any chances, with controls and checkpoints around the Olympic Stadium manned by 1,000 police and stewards. Another 2,000 police were deployed in the city centre, where sales of takeaway alcohol were banned. But around 2,500 English fans came to the eternal city from Berlin, from Spain, France and other parts of Italy, even from Dubai to make their presence felt.

Fans in Rome turned out to watch England beat Ukraine

Credit: PA

Among them was former England manager Fabio Capello, the Italian who took them to the second round of the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, only to be knocked out by the Germans.

Mark Maynard, 53, a property manager who lives in Dubai – which, like EU countries, is also exempt from the five-day quarantine rule in Italy – said: "We booked our tickets on our phones straight after England beat Germany on Tuesday. Most of us couldn’t remember we had booked the flights when we woke up the next morning. But it turned out to be a good move.

"We feel bad for all the fans back in England who weren’t allowed to come. But at least some fans are here."

There were drinks all round at Finnegan’s, a pub in the historic heart of Rome, a few hundred yards from the Colosseum.

"I’m so pleased, it’s very encouraging," said Jonathan Hedley, 42, originally from Newcastle, who lives in Rome. "I think we have a very good chance of getting to the final. There’s no good reason we can’t beat Denmark." 

Mark Lewis, a television director based in London but working in Rome, said: "After a terrible year it’s just the boost we need. I think the boys could go all the way."

"We’ve done it!" said Charles Harcourt-Groome, a managing director who lives in Rome. "Our chances this year are better than ever before. Let loose the Lions!"

In Trafalgar Square the party had begun long before the final whistle.

Jan Tooze, 52, a fragrances development manager from Bridgend, said: "Oh my god I’m so happy, they did us proud. It’s awesome."

Additional reporting by Ewan Somerville and Chris Bennion