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World Cup 2018: Lensman caught in Croatia victory pile

Croatia players celebrate next to an AFP photographer Yuri Cortez after Mario Mandzukic scores their second goal Image copyright Carl Recine/Reuters

No photographer got closer to Croatia’s World Cup semi-final victory than AFP’s Yuri Cortez who found himself right under the pile of jubilant players.

He happened to be working in the corner of the pitch in Moscow where Mario Mandzukic rushed to celebrate after scoring against England in extra time.

Teammates piled in after the man behind the winning goal and Cortez disappeared beneath the team.

“They just kept coming towards me and they fell on me!” he says.

Ever the professional, he picked up his camera and snapped the finalists close up, while colleagues in turn photographed the Salvadorean inside the pile.

Croatia beat England 2-1 on Wednesday to reach the World Cup final for the first time in their history.

“I was just changing my lens as the players ran towards me,” the photographer told AFP news agency later.

Croatia's defender Josip Pivaric (R) celebrates with teammates after Croatia's forward Mario Mandzukic (C) scored their second goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 11 July 2018 Image copyright Yuri Cortez/AFP
Croatia's forward Mario Mandzukic (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match Image copyright Yuri Cortez/AFP
Croatia's forward Mario Mandzukic (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match Image copyright Yuri Cortez/AFP

“They were delighted. Then they suddenly realised that I was underneath them.

“The [players] asked me if I was OK. One picked up my lens and another player (Domagoj Vida) gave me a kiss.”

Croatia's forward Mario Mandzukic (C) offers to help AFP photographer Yuri Cortez after he fell on him with teammates while celebrating their second goal Image copyright Yuri Cortez/AFP
Croatia's Mario Mandzukic helps an AFP photographer Yuri Cortez to his feet after celebrating scoring their second goal Image copyright Carl Recine/Reuters
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Croatia's Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic celebrate with an AFP photographer Yuri Cortez after their second goal Image copyright Carl Recine/Reuters
Croatia's forward Mario Mandzukic (L) shakes hands with AFP photographer Yuri Cortez (C) after falling on him with teammates while celebrating their second goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup semi-final football match between Croatia and England at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on 11 July 2018. Image copyright Mladen Antonov/AFP

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