Fernando Santos, the coach of Portugal, has explained why he left Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench in their 6-1 World Cup round of 16 win over Switzerland on Tuesday.
Ronaldo’s replacement, 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick, and Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, and substitute Rafael Leao also scored.
Santos’ men have now set up a quarter-final with Morocco on Saturday.
Ronaldo was restricted to a 17-minute cameo after reacting negatively to being taken off in Portugal’s final group match – a 2-1 loss to South Korea.
When asked to explain Ronaldo’s absence from the starting line-up – the first time he has failed to start a Portugal match at a tournament since 2008 – Santos claimed it was purely tactical.
“Andre [Silva] who is a great player who plays more advanced, Cristiano is more fixed, he stays in a more determined area towards the box. Goncalo has different characteristics. He is very dynamic and the observations I made and that is what he ended up showing us.
“It is nothing new, he already came on in two matches, but I would say as Andre also played in a previous match, I have three players I fully trust. For each match I will use which player I see for my strategy. All the players on the bench can be used [against Morocco [even] if they are not in the starting XI.”