Ramos scores hat-trick as Portugal crush Swiss to reach World Cup quarter-finals
Goncalo Ramos justified the shock decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring a hat-trick on his full debut as Portugal demolished Switzerland 6-1 on Tuesday to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.
The 21-year-old Ramos, who started in place of Ronaldo, became the youngest player to score three times in a World Cup knockout match since Pele in 1958.
Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro and Rafael Leao were also on target for a rampant Portugal, who book a showdown with Morocco on Saturday for a place in the last four in Qatar.
Ronaldo, 37 and now without a club after leaving Manchester United, has grabbed the headlines during the tournament while looking a shadow of his former self.
The only man to score in five World Cups, Ronaldo was left out by coach Fernando Santos against the Swiss after his angry response to being substituted in the final group stage.
It was a bold call to leave out a player with a record 118 international goals in favor of handing a full debut to Ramos, the Benfica striker who had played just 33 minutes in three previous appearances.
But it took just 17 minutes for Ramos to reward Santos’ faith, achieving something Ronaldo has never done – scoring in a World Cup knockout match.
Joao Felix clipped gently into the feet of Ramos, who quickly swerved past Fabian Schaer and ran into the roof of the net past a stunned Yann Sommer.
Otavio, returning to Portugal’s midfield after injury in the opening game, fired straight at Sommer before Ramos did the same moments later.
Xherdan Shaqiri stopped a Diogo Costa fingertip with a deep free-kick from distance, but Portugal soon had their second.
Bruno Fernandes whipped in a corner and 39-year-old Pepe towered over the Swiss defense to powerfully head home.
Diogo Dalot hacked Remo Freuler’s header off the line after Diogo Costa failed to properly handle a cross, but the Swiss simply had no answer against an unstoppable Portugal.
Ramos turned in his second from close range six minutes into the second half from Dalot’s cross down the right.
He then turned provider by playing in Guerreiro to tap in another just four minutes later as the Swiss defense was ruthlessly torn apart.
It was also Ramos who inadvertently flicked on a corner against Manuel Akanji at the far post as the Manchester City centre-back pulled one back for Switzerland.
Ramos completed his treble after more outstanding work from Felix, as he nonchalantly pondered Sommer with one of his final touches before making way for Ronaldo.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner unleashed the biggest roar of the night. Ronaldo had the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled out for clear offside.
Leao capped off a sensational Portugal performance with a stunning curling strike in stoppage time.
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