Jubilant England fans now expected to rush to Russia

Martin Evans
England fans have been celebrating after the team put six past Panama - 2018 Southampton FC

Thousands of England fans are expected to rush for Russia after the Three Lions qualified for the knockout stages with a game to spare.

Only 2,000 supporters made the journey to Nizhny Novgorod to see Gareth Southgate's men put six past Panama.

But with pre-tournament fears over hooliganism and racism proving unfounded, many more are now expected to join them for Thursday's clash against Belgium and for the following knockout stages.

Gullivers Travel, which runs England Supporters Travel Club trips, said all the tickets for the Belgium game, which will take place in the western Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, have already sold out, but black market tickets are understood to still be available.

England fans travelling without official tickets however will need to apply for a visa before they set off in order to get into Russia.

Only around 2,000 England fans travelled to Nizhny Novgorod Credit: Julian Simmonds

Before Sunday's thrilling result the Football Association was reporting that just 1,500 tickets had been sold for the first round of the knockout stages.

But now England is guaranteed to progress, that figure is expected to soar, with as many as 10,000 thought likely to travel to Russia to lend the team their support.

A spokesman for the travel organisation, ABTA said: "It's been World Cup fever since England's win in the first game.

"More people are likely to head out to Russia after concerns about trouble dissipated."

Veteran England supporter, Mark Perryman, who has been travelling to world cups for the last 30-years, said: "Fans were put off by suggestions of hooligans, authoritarian police, racism and homophobia - but it's not been anything like that.

"While Germany and Brazil are struggling, England's chances of reaching the quarter-finals are suddenly much more rosy - and fans can see that."

As many 10,000 England fans are now expected to travel to Russia Credit: Reuters

Meanwhile at home, England's record beating performance also provided a welcome boost for the country's pubs, with more than 15 million pints of beer sold on Sunday.

Encouraged by the fine weather, football fans across the country opted to leave their sofas and enjoy the match in pubs and beer gardens across the country.

Experts claim that Sunday's lunchtime kick off will have resulted in a £150 million bonanza for the industry with millions of extra pub meals also being sold.

Brigid Simmonds, the Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said the World Cup had provided a welcome boost to the industry.

She said: "We have been under pressure for some time so having good weather  - which always encourages people to visit the pub - combined with terrific performances on the pitch from England is very welcome.

"The good weather looks set to continue so let's hope Harry Kane can keep knocking in the hat-ricks."