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AFP photographer becomes part of Croatia World Cup goal celebration

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Mario Mandzukic celebrates his winning goal for Croatia after he and his teammates fell on top of AFP photographer Yuri Cortez © AFP / Yuri CORTEZ

MOSCOW, Russian Federation, Jul 12 – When Croatia scored the goal that took them into the World Cup final on Wednesday, 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 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.

Croatia defender Josip Pivaric celebrates up close after he and his teammates collapsed onto AFP photographer Yuri Cortez © AFP / Yuri 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.”

Croatia, who have reached the final for the first time in their history, will play France on Sunday.

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