Even Russian President Vladimir Putin was taken in by the host nation's surprising run, at least according to Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev thanked the team on his Facebook account.
Ivan Rakitic has waved off Andres Iniesta after the veteran's time at Barcelona although it was his exit from the World Cup that left the Croatian most vexed.
In a related incident, Federation Internationale de Football Association also issued a warning to Croatia goalkeeper, Danijel Subasic, who lifted his jersey to reveal a T-shirt commemorating a teammate who had died from game-related injuries in 2008.
But as Croatia broke the stalemate in extra time, all etiquette was out in Sochi, and the now-jacketless Croatian politician bounced up and down next to Medvedev, who looked away, disappointment etched on his face.
Although the Real Madrid midfielder missed a spot kick against Denmark in extra time, he then scored in the shootout just minutes later to add to the one he netted against Nigeria in Croatia's opener.
However, a bigger issue for coach Zlatko Dalic will be how to get more decisive performances from his top players.
It was a dramatic end to a see-saw game that finished 1-1 after the regulation 90 minutes, and 2-2 after extra-time.
"It wasn't a attractive game, but it was a battle", Dalic said.
Luka Modric won the man of the match award for the third time in five games at this World Cup, with a superb array of passing from a deep role in midfield.