SUPPORTERS flooded out of the pubs and bars of Southampton dejected but proud after England’s crushing 2-1 defeat against Croatia in the World Cup semi-final.

Despite plenty of optimism – and an early goal – fans were ultimately left pondering what could have been ahead of Sunday’s final.

After supporters had taken a moment to reflect, a smattering of applause echoed around Above Bar Street as crowds joined each other in congratulating the national side for getting deeper into the competition than most expected.

James Richardson, 44, of Woolston, said he had been watching the match at Yates, and was pleased with the tournament as a whole.

He said: “You can see how many people have come out tonight to support the team. It’s brought a country together at a difficult time, and I know it’s disappointing, but we have to be proud with what we have achieved.”

With a heavy police presence throughout the city even an hour before the match began, fans were singing and enjoying the sunshine outside The Spitfire, Yates and other pubs in the centre.

Hundreds of supporters lined the streets and queued to get in, with ‘it’s coming home’ booming out.

As the match started, pubs were packed to the brim, and fans were duly rewarded for their loyalty as Kieran Trippier’s fifth-minute free-kick sent them into raptures.

A gruelling hour went by until Croatia drew level, and fans were left watching through their fingers.

When they grabbed their second goal, the dejected feeling swept across the pubs as fans were left wondering ahead of Sunday’s final.

As supporters filed out, they were met with a heavy police presence. Hampshire Constabulary had issued a warning that officers would meet any threat “as necessary”.

Vans and cars in the city monitored the area following an incident where a fan danced on top of buses on Saturday.

Liam Playford, 45, said there was no reason why England couldn’t go one step further at Euro 2020.

He said: “It’s been absolutely brilliant, but gutting that tonight it came to an end.”