England fans with flares gather in Trafalgar Square ahead of the match REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
LONDON, July 11 (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of supporters descended on London's Wembley Stadium on Sunday, kick-starting an alcohol-fuelled party hours before England take on Italy in the final of Euro 2020.
By lunchtime the pavements around England's national stadium were slick with beer, and underfoot resembled the stickiest of pub carpets as supporters sang, chanted and hurled drinks while police looked on.
Many set up camp early with thousands queuing to get into pub gardens before lunchtime and others packed into city squares.
Some four hours before the 8pm local kick-off, Wembley Way was crammed with supporters all the way from the underground station to the stadium.
Beer cans and bottles flew through the air as acrid smoke from flares drifted through the crowd and supporters, dressed in England shirts of various vintages, sang and chanted.
Three hours before kick-off, police urged supporters not to travel to Wembley if they did not have match tickets, and complained of multiple cases of flares being set off within the vicinity of railway stations in London.
The exuberant scenes at the stadium were replicated across the city.
Gus McKay, a 53-year-old England fan from Bradford-on-Avon, joined the party at Leicester Square in central London.
"I think it feels incredible," he said. "I've been waiting all my life (to reach a final)."
Dave Woodall from York echoed the sentiment: "I was one when we won the World Cup and it's a dream that I never thought would happen," he said.
"So I'm like a kid at Christmas. It's the best feeling ever. I had to come down for the day, I couldn't miss this."
England are looking to win their first major title since lifting the 1966 World Cup.