Cristiano Ronaldo’s benching was fully vindicated as his replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick as Portugal hammered Switzerland 6-1 to book their quarter-final spot in Qatar on Tuesday.
Santos was angered by Ronaldo’s attitude after being substituted in the team’s defeat to South Korea, so he decided to bench the out-of-form 37-year-old on Tuesday.
Ramos took 17 minutes to accomplish what Ronaldo had never accomplished for Portugal to score in a World Cup knockout game.
It was Pepe, captain in Ronaldo’s absence, who scored the second goal for Portugal, and Ramos set up Raphael Guerreiro, with Manuel Akanji’s consolation for Switzerland being merely a footnote before Ramos scored his hat-trick and Rafael Leao’s late stunning strike.
The Five times Ballon d’Or winner was bought in to replace Goncalo Ramos in the 74th minute of the game.
This was one of the most devastating full World Cup debuts you are ever likely to see. Ramos had six shots here and scored three of them, while also showing great awareness to set up Guerreiro.
His hat-trick made him the first player to score three on his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose in 2002 – that is some act to follow
Manchester United star Fernandes is having a fine tournament. No player managed more goal involvements than him in the group stages (four), and he was a creative nuisance once again here, claiming another assist from a team-high three key passes.
Key Opta Facts
– Portugal have reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup for just the third time, after 2006 and 1966, ending a run of five consecutive knockout games at the tournament without a victory (D1 L4).
– Switzerland have failed to progress in all five of their World Cup matches in the round of 16, conceding six goals in a knockout round match at the tournament for the second time, after a 7-5 defeat to Austria in the quarter-final in 1954.
– This was Portugal’s biggest ever victory in the knockout rounds of the World Cup, scoring six goals outside the group stages for the first time.
– At 21 years and 169 days old, Gonçalo Ramos became Portugal’s second youngest goal scorer in World Cup history after Cristiano Ronaldo (21y 132d in June 2006), while he’s the first player to score a hat-trick on his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose in 2002.
Portugal will play Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday after the Atlas Lions stunned Spain 3-0 on penalties. Switzerland’s tournament is over.