“Welcome to the new world. This was a miserable occasion on a miserable night, in a miserable stadium, against miserable opposition – decorated with a miserable backdrop of recrimination and bad blood.
“But it was also, in its own way, a righteous occasion. Racist abuse in football stadiums has been a source of unhappiness for as long as there has been racist abuse, racist violence and everything else along the spectrum.
In Sofia, for the first time, football made a live intervention. It was vile, disturbing and toxic, with the promise of greater violence in the air as the stadium simmered through a deeply unpleasant evening of what was, at times only notionally, international sport.
‘No one will remember the football’
John Cross, the Mirror’s chief football writer, was at the match to witness the “surreal scenes”.
“The sad part is that no one will remember the football,” he wrote.
“No-one will remember the emphatic victory, Ross Barkley’s man-of-the-match performance, Marcus Rashford’s stunning strike or even Raheem Sterling’s brilliant brace.
Everyone will remember it for a night that shamed football when, somehow, amid appalling scenes, England’s footballers kept going while a section of Bulgaria’s fans disgraced their country.
‘A landmark date for the future’
Also present at the game, the Independent’s Miguel Delaney spoke of the landmark occasion where UEFA were forced to implement their anti-racism protocols for the first time.
“It was then that a grim piece of history was made,” he wrote.
It was the first time that Uefa’s three-step protocol was put into effect, with the public address system declaring that the referee would consider abandoning the match due to racist behaviour.