Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision to sit out was vindicated as his replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick in Portugal’s 6-1 thrashing of Switzerland.
Ronaldo’s demeanor after being substituted in their loss to South Korea enraged Fernando Santos, and the veteran coach took advantage of the opportunity to bench the 37-year-old on Tuesday.
Ramos took 17 minutes to do something Ronaldo has never done for Portugal: score in a World Cup knockout game, and he would end up assisting on four goals.
Pepe scored Portugal’s second goal in Ronaldo’s absence, and Ramos also set up Raphael Guerreiro, with Manuel Akanji’s consolation for Switzerland prior to Ramos’ hat-trick and Rafael Leao’s late stunner a mere footnote.
Ramos’ opener was completely out of character for such a dull start.
After taking a touch, Ramos sent a bullet of a left-footed strike into the top-left corner from a tight angle after Joao Felix passed into the left side of the area.
Just before the half-hour mark, a fingertip Diogo Costa save from Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick kept Portugal ahead, and three minutes later, Pepe headed home Bruno Fernandes’ corner.
Any hope of a comeback was quickly dashed by two goals early in the second half.
Ramos first turned in Diogo Dalot’s low cross before teeing up Guerreiro unselfishly.
After a Portugal defender inadvertently flicked on a corner, Akanji knocked in at the back post, but the deficit was four again soon after, Ramos’ impudent dink over Yann Sommer completing a memorable treble.
He was later replaced by Ronaldo, who had a late goal disallowed for offside, but Portugal were not finished, with Leao burying a stunning curler in stoppage time.
Portugal’s next fixture
Portugal will play Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday after the Atlas Lions stunned Spain. Switzerland’s tournament is over.