The England team did the country proud on Saturday night and long may that continue (Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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In the worst of times, it is the best of times.

England’s stunning victory last night was just the tonic we needed after the cruellest 15 months most of us can remember.

Today we can celebrate what we only dared hope to see – England within striking distance of winning this tournament.

But in football, as in life, it is hope which keeps us going.

Hope that vaccines will give us a way out of the nightmare we have been living through.

Hope that now we are in the semi-finals we will get through to the finals.

There were some nail-biting moments. But football wouldn’t be football without fingers chewed to the quick.

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And when Gareth Southgate and the Three Lions finally nailed Ukraine last night, the roar that went up in Britain could be heard all the way to Kiev.

Even Covid could not stop our joy. Though it did stop most fans going to Rome because of quarantine restrictions.

So millions watched the game on TV, willing our lads to triumph by creating little Wembleys in their own homes.

But then we have been locked up for so long that even being with the Lions in spirit was enough to send ours soaring.

If all this has the feel of 1966 about it, it’s not only because of Tuesday’s last-16 trouncing of Germany.

The England squad are proving themselves to be world-beaters.

Which is why today we can all feel on top of the world.