Moscow, July 12: When Croatia scored the goal that took them into the World Cup final on Wednesday (July 11), an AFP photographer unwittingly became part of the celebrations as he was buried under a pile of joyous players.
After Mario Mandzukic scored in extra-time to give Croatia a 2-1 win against England in the World Cup semi-final, he ran to a corner of the pitch at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium to share his joy with his teammates.
"I was just changing my lens as the players ran towards me," said photographer Yuri Cortez, who was positioned next to the pitchside advertising boards. "They just kept coming towards me and they fell on me! It was a crazy moment, they were delighted. Then they suddenly realised that I was underneath them," said Mexico City-based Cortez.
Quick as a flash, he picked up his camera and took some remarkable close-up shots of the Croats' joy. "Then they asked me if I was OK. Another one picked up my lens and another player (Domagoj Vida) gave me a kiss."
Some images of the dramatic celebration of Croatia's second goal against England during the semi final of the world cup #FifaWorldCup2018 #EnglandvsCroatia #CRO #CROvENG #CROENG #RussiaWorldCup2018 #Russia2018 #Rusia2018 #Nikon #CroaciaInglaterra pic.twitter.com/4wTwObDT8t— Yuri Cortez (@YuriYurisky) July 12, 2018
Croatia, who have reached the final for the first time in their history, will play France on Sunday.
Goals from Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic helped Croatia to a come-from-behind win over England in the semi-finals on Wednesday (July 11). The result saw Croatia reach a first World Cup final, where France await in Sunday's decider in Moscow.
It was France that ended the nation's previous run at the showpiece tournament, winning their 1998 semi-final 2-1 before going on to claim the title.
Unbelievably, he managed to take some stunning candid photos during the madness https://t.co/DPou0vkSQZ— JOE.co.uk (@JOE_co_uk) July 12, 2018
Meanwhile, England will return to their Repino base near Saint Petersburg ahead of Saturday's third place play-off against Belgium, a repeat of their final group match.
Source: (PTI and OPTA)