No Ronaldo, no problem: Ramos hat-trick helps Portugal smash 6 past Switzerland

Published on Dec 07, 2022 02:45 AM IST

He became the second youngest man (21y-169d) to score a hat-trick in a FIFA World Cup knockout stage match.

Portugal's Rafael Leao, left, and Portugal's Goncalo Ramos celebrate after the win (AP)
Portugal's Rafael Leao, left, and Portugal's Goncalo Ramos celebrate after the win (AP)
By, New Delhi

The stadium was buzzing long before the game started. Portugal had decided to bench Cristiano Ronaldo for their Round of 16 match against Switzerland. Logic would indicate that it was the correct decision but this was Ronaldo we were talking about. Could it backfire?

It never came to that though. Portugal ran out easy 6-1 winners over a shell-shocked Switzerland to advance to the quarterfinals.

With just his fourth touch of the game, Goncalo Ramos (the man who replaced Ronaldo in the starting XI) scored Portugal's first goal of the match and what a goal it was.

The 21-year-old only had 35 minutes of international experience coming into the match but he has been banging in the goal for Benfica and he showed why.

For the first goal, which came in the 17th minute, Joao Felix fed the ball into Ramos, who had his back to goal and Schar sticking to him. He moved the ball onto his left foot, which gave him with just one real angle for his shot, then he smashed a rising drive at the near post. Such was the velocity of the shot that Sommer was beaten for pace.

Things got worse for Switzerland when Kleper Pepe scored in the 33rd minute with a wonderful header. The 39-year-old became the oldest ever player to score in a knockout stage game at the World Cup.

The score remained the same all the way half-time. Portugal's movement had been great and Switzerland's defence, normally their strongest point, hadn't turned up.

Ramos wasn't done though. Not by a long shot. Six minutes after half-time, he got his second of the game. Diogo Dalot set it up with a wonderful run down the right and then his cross was met by Ramos, who instinctively set it towards the goal and through Sommer's legs.

In the 55th minute, Portugal got their fourth through left-back Raphael Guerreiro, who charged through the field and was in the right position to slam the ball into the roof of the net. It was once again a lovely move and the pace of it surprised the Swiss.

By now, the Swiss knew the match was over. The shoulders were drooping and they wore a resigned look on their faces.

But that look changed a little when Manuel Akanji (58') scored Switzerland’s first goal in a World Cup knockout game since 1954. It came off a corner and Akanji was on hand to direct the ball into the net.

It didn't get any easier though as Ramos completed his hat-trick in the 67th minute with a wonderful dink over Sommer. He became the second youngest man (21y-169d) to score a hat trick in a FIFA World Cup knockout stage match. The only player to do so at a younger age was Pele (17y-244d) in the 1958 semi-finals.

It was a wonderful show by the youngster but the crowd hadn't quite forgotten Ronaldo. They started chanting his name and Portugal manager Fernando Santos responded by giving the legend some game time and a chance to score another goal.

The goal didn't come that way but Rafael Leao, who came on in the 87th minute, made it 6-1 with another superb finish.

Portugal have made their first World Cup quarterfinal since 2006 and truth be told, they did largely without Ronaldo. Ramos showed that his time had come and he sure seized it in some style.

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