Croatia captain Luka Modric put in a man-of-the-match performance to lead his side to a penalty shootout victory over hosts Russia, but he has no interest in personal awards as they chase their World Cup dream in a semifinal against England.
Croatia came back from a goal down to draw 1-1 after 90 minutes and thought they had done enough to win when they took the lead through Domagoj Vida in extra time, but Mario Fernandes headed home a free kick to make it 2-2 and take it to penalties, which the Croatians won 4-3.
The playmaker, who won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid before coming to Russia, brushed off suggestions that his performance might put him in the running for the Ballon d'Or prize as the world's best player.
"The most important thing for me is that my national team succeeded and that we do something big. We've already accomplished something big, but we want to do more," he told reporters.
"In the second half and in extra time we dominated, we should have finished the job before penalties, but maybe it's written in the stars that we have to go through the extra drama," he added.
Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was a shootout hero for a second consecutive match after persevering through an apparent hamstring injury he picked up in the second half.
Subasic made three saves in the round-of-16 shootout against Denmark, and stopped the first against Russia for a total of four to match Harald Schumacher of West Germany and Sergio Goygochea of Argentina for the most in a single World Cup.
Modric said Subasic told him that the injury should not be a major factor as Croatia prepare for their semifinal.
"He could go on and that was the most important thing," Modric said of his goalkeeper . "I'm not sure how it affected him. But he saved fantastically the first shot in the shootout. I asked him and he said he was OK, it did not affect him much. Thank God everything is fine with him."
The Croatians looked more comfortable from the spot, netting four of their five attempts with midfielder Ivan Rakitic firing home the decisive effort to put them into the semifinals, prompting tears from Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic.
"I was concentrated throughout the match, but after Rakitic's penalty the emotion came bursting out of me. We made ourselves happy, but also everyone back in Croatia happy -- I don't cry often, but now I had good cause," the coach told reporters.
Dalic's side now face England, who comfortably beat Sweden 2-0 earlier in the day, in their semifinal on Wednesday in Moscow.
"Of course there is some power left for the English -- we will not stop, we will try to play our best game then. We have two matches to play, we are very motivated, we will give our all," Dalic said, adding that the competition is wide open.
"There are no favourites at this World Cup, every game is 50-50 and you have to fight it out. The favourites, the big teams are home. The teams who are hard-working, who are compact and united, these are the teams that are still here."
Croatia defender Dejan Lovren said, who plays in England for Liverpool, said his side's status as underdogs doesn't bother him.
"I think we are underdogs from day one and it's good for us,'' Lovren said. "When you've got all these other teams, France, Belgium, England, that's the top teams from the beginning and we are the underdogs. Maybe we can change something."
Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.