Agence France-Presse photographer Yuri Cortez was sent tumbling to the ground as players piled on top of him in the wake of the goal, deep into extra-time on Wednesday evening.
But as Mr Cortez became buried under Croatia players, he continued to take pictures of them celebrating their moment of history – and caught the perfect frame of Josip Pivaric.
Perfect snap: Croatia’s defender Josip Pivaric, right, celebrates with teammates after Croatia’s forward Mario Mandzukic, cenrte, scored their second goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow
How he did it: Agence France-Presse photographer Yuri Cortez unwittingly became part of the celebrations as he was buried under a pile of joyous players – but kept taking photos
After Mari Mandzukic scored in extra-time to give Croatia a 2-1 win against England in the 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.
Take the shot: While celebrating Croatia’s winner against England, the snapper got caught in the middle and took advantage of the opportunity to grab the closest of close-ups
Mandzukic had grabbed hold of Cortez but was sent tumbling by his jubilant team-mates, and as the photographer was sent spinning down to earth, he continued to take pictures
We are all winners: Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic celebrates with Cortez in the aftermath of the goal
Helping hand: Mario Mandzukic offers a hand to Mr Cortez in the melee after his winner – this is an image he captured while lying on the floor holding his cameras
Sorry pal! Mandzukic then apologised to the photographer after the extra-time incident
All friends: Cortez, normally based in Mexico City, Mexico working for AFP, has a moment to treasure
Mandzukic’s face can be seen turning from ecstasy into horror as he realises the photographer has been caught in the cross-fire.
And then with Cortez flat on his back on the Luzhniki Stadium pitch, he offers him a helping hand and brings him back to his feet.
Another photographer then captures the moment as Mandzukic apologises for bundling over Cortez, who has a broad grin etched across his face.
‘Then they asked me if I was OK. Another one picked up my lens and another player (Domagoj Vida) gave me a kiss.’
Croatia, who have reached the final for the first time in their history, will play France on Sunday.