MEXICO coach Miguel Herrera will allow his players a small celebration after what he regarded as one of the best days of his life.
A 3-1 victory over Croatia courtesy of goals from captain Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado and Javier Hernandez ensured Ivan Perisic's well-taken consolation three minutes from time came too late to save the Europeans, who had Ante Rebic sent off even later.
The win puts Mexico into the last 16 to face Group B winners Holland but in the immediate aftermath of victory Herrera wanted to enjoy the experience.
"We overcame the first hurdle. We're happy," he told his post-match press conference.
"That is one of the happiest days of my life. It was a hard fight, but my team pulled through. We felt as if we were playing at home in Mexico.
"We're going to celebrate tonight but tomorrow we have to start thinking of our match with the Netherlands."
While Croatia dominated possession in the first half they did little with it and Mexico came closest to scoring when Hector Herrera smashed a 25-yard left-foot effort against the angle of crossbar and post.
The match wore on the more it suited Mexico, who needed only a draw to progress, and when their opponents started to take risks they were clinically exploited with the North Americans scoring three times in 10 minutes late on.
"It's a moot point whether we should have kept it 0-0 until the last 10 minutes and then go all-out on the attack," said Croatia coach Niko Kovac.
"We decided to attack earlier but it wasn't successful.
"We kept the game open for a long time, but two corners decided the game.
"We weren't bad but the opponent was better."