Six-goal romp sends England press into hysterics
JUST 10 days in and the 2018 World Cup is a done deal is the near unanimous verdict of the English media after its side's 6-1 thrashing of Panama last night.
It is a view shared with an entire nation seemingly caught up in a heady mix of free flowing football, music festivals and a 26 degree 'heatwave' back home.
The Sun newspaper reports on joyous street parties breaking out across the country while 'It's coming home' is the galvanising, and much copied, tweet from rock star Liam Gallagher.
"Supporters from Brighton beach to the Isle of Wight, are in jubilant mood, many of them toasting England's performance with drinks in the sun," says the Mirror.
"England appear to be playing with energy, confidence and quality - with no signs of fear or trepidation."
The outbreak of mania is not confined to the tabloids.
"England were so astonishingly good it was surreal to watch" reads the headline for the Sunday Times
"It was so brilliant - so damn enjoyable - as almost to be surreal, a country actually able to sit back and relax watching the national team in a World Cup."
It is left to the Guardian to throw in a little perspective which, in a template that will become more and more prevalent - tells the story, by video, of former Milwall FC community outreach officer Gary Stempel, who more than anyone it says, has helped change Panamanian footballs at all age levels through national team work and within the domestic league where he won five titles.
"Millwall was a hard place in the 1980s so when I came to Panama, it was just a natural progression," is Stempel's neat analysis. Drugs, crime and social issues are covered lucidly and comprehensively in a ground breaking piece for sports journalism.
The Panama media too takes a lovely angle, the six goals shipped ignored entirely in Nizhny Novgorod.
"Baloy sets record as the oldest debutant to score a goal in a World Cup' is the headline today, with a warm look at Felipe "El Pipe" Baloy who became the oldest man to score on his World Cup debut.
"Baloy 37 years (120 days), who had just entered the field to replace Edgar Bárcenas appeared in the English area to top a free kick centre kicked by Ricardo 'Ávila," the country's oldest newspaper says.
"The goalkeeper Jordan Pickford could not prevent the ball from kissing the English net, unleashing the hysteria of the tricolour bar that celebrated from Russia to Panama the expected goal."
The positive is continued in its reporting of the group H draw between Japan and Senegal this morning.
"Between two teams whose hobbies are characterised by cleanliness in the stands, it is fair play that determines that Japan provisionally faces the final day as leader of the group, thanks to having fewer yellow cards," less bookings a factor for teams tied once the group stage is done.
Both countries sit level at the top of the group, not that Colombia, in third, is giving up.
Its El Tiempo newspaper is in a jingoistic mood to match the Poms following a 3-0 win over Poland and its great hero, Radamel Falcao, finally breaking his World Cup scoring duck
"Falcao's is rock and roll. 32,000 Colombians became the most electrifying chorus in the history of the bass and drums beat in Russia. Amazing!" says the newspaper. "Falcao is our Ulysses."
And finally, Big Sam.
England manager for just one game a couple of years ago - pushed out after he couldn't stop blabbing about his good fortune and abilities - Sam Allardyce, was like many fans, pictured in a pub yesterday watching the match.
Only Sam was by himself and spotted tucking into a burger.
Other than national team glory, there is little England love more than revelling in than a man brought low by his own follies.
But, say some papers, this was a spot of promo work for a bookies, not a friendless multi-millionaire beaten up by an internal dialogue of 'it should have been me'.
Sam has always known the value of money. Expect the ad any day soon.