Ronaldo’s replacement scores hat-trick as Portugal hammer Switzerland
Portugal romped to a 6-1 win over Switzerland in the last 16 of the World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday night, with Cristiano Ronaldo watching on from the bench for most of the match.
Ronaldo was dropped by manager Fernando Santos after reacting badly to being brought off against South Korea in Portugal's final group game.
In his absence, 21-year-old Benfica striker Goncalo Ramos was the star of the show with a hat-trick and stated his case to be picked at Ronaldo's expense moving forward.
Ramos opened the scoring inside 17 minutes when he latched on to a Joao Felix pass, took one touch, then turned and fired into Yan Sommer's top corner.
DON'T SLEEP ON PORTUGAL 🔥 pic.twitter.com/j6LkxWSGra— GOAL (@goal) December 6, 2022
Sixteen minutes later, 39-year-old captain Pepe put away a bullet header to double the lead.
Ramos didn’t take long after the break to seal his hat trick. For his second, he connected with a Diogo Dalot pass into the penalty area on 51 minutes.
Assisting Raphael Guerreiro to make it 4-0 before the hour mark, Ramos snuffed out any chance of a potential comeback for the Swiss after Manuel Akanji pulled one back when netting again on 67 minutes while a sublime Joao Felix notched his second assist.
Ramos not only became the first man of the 2022 World Cup to score a hat trick, but also the youngest man in the history of the tournament's knockout phase to achieve the feat since Pele for Brazil in a 1958 semi-final against France.
Goncalo Ramos is the youngest man to score a hat trick in a FIFA World Cup knock-out match after Pele 👶👏 pic.twitter.com/WxDQgDYtvM— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 6, 2022
The crowd inside the Lusail Stadium made deafening calls for Ronaldo's introduction that were eventually heeded by Santos on 73 minutes, when Ramos was brought off as part of a triple substitution.
Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo had a goal ruled offside, but there was more to come when Rafael Leao curved an excellent shot into the top corner after cutting inside the box during stoppage time.
Ronaldo applauded the crowd and was then first down the tunnel as his teammates celebrated.
His country will now take on giant-killers Morocco, who beat Spain in a penalty shootout earlier on Tuesday and are looking to make history with a first-ever semifinals appearance.
If they are as productive and clinical as they were against the Swiss however, with 14 shots and nine on target which led to their six goals, a last four showdown with either 2018 winners France or England could be on the cards for the Portuguese.