Goncalo Ramos of Portugal scored three goals as his team smashed Switzerland 6-1 to advance to the 2022 Qatar World Cup quarterfinals against Morocco.
On Wednesday night at Lusail Stadium, Ramos, who had taken Cristiano Ronaldo’s position on the bench, scored a historic hat trick as the veterans of Portuguese football gave the ball to the next generation.
In Ronaldo’s absence, veteran Pepe took the captain’s role and added to Ramos’s first-half goal.
Early within the half, Ramos scored his second goal. Before the hour mark, Raphael Guerreiro added a fourth as Portugal began to score frequently. Then Ramos scored his third goal, making him the first World Cup player since 1990 to achieve a hat trick in the knockout rounds.
Without the domineering influence of their talismanic captain, who was benched after he reacted violently to being replaced against South Korea in the group stages, Portugal had more balance.
Soccer is a team sport, and Portugal’s team rallied to cover Ronaldo’s gap.
Ramos, now twenty-one, was just two when Ronaldo made his international debut for Portugal. Before tonight, he has participated in less than 35 minutes of international football after making his debut last month. He had never before left for his homeland. The stakes were high. And he didn’t let us down.
Portugal engaged in cooperative, connected play. They appeared capable of winning the competition for the first time this tournament.
In the 56th minute, Manuel Akanji of Switzerland drew again a wonderfully weighted cross for a consolation goal, but it failed to signal an amendment within the game’s momentum.
In the 72nd minute, Ronaldo, who received a standing ovation, replaced Joao Felix. This was after fans had been chanting his name in this 90,000-seat stadium for 30 minutes. The veteran striker’s superb effort in the 82nd minute was disallowed for offside.
The 23-year-old Rafael Leao scored a pretty goal within the 91st minute to line up Portugal’s match against Morocco on Saturday before England’s match against France.
However, there are still uncertainties around Ronaldo’s future.
Ronaldo cut a lonesome figure at the conclusion of the game since he had no club left to play for after a dramatic media implosion terminated his stint at Manchester United and because the national team had a logical replacement lined up.