Northern Ireland and Poland give us something to believe in at Euro 2016 | Amy Lawrence

After the trouble in Marseille Northern Ireland and Poland served up a spectacle to warm the fractured soul of international football

All in all it felt like suddenly entering a parallel Euro 2016 universe. Just 120 miles down the A8 the morning after the nightmares of Marseille Poland and Northern Ireland jumbled together for the kind of sporting melting pot and sense of occasion that makes football seem the greatest sport in the world. A glorious if optimistic sense of possibility, something to believe in and enjoy, a laugh with strangers – these were the vibrations that dominated all day in Nice.

The Promenade des Anglais did not feel very English (or Russian, for that matter) as far as the football temperature could be measured. The flashpoints in Nice on the eve of the match had been provoked by local hoodlums and it was much more typical of the way these two nations had been getting along that reports emerged of some Northern Ireland fans accompanying a Polish man who had been injured to hospital to make sure he was OK.

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