Portugal thrashed Switzerland 6-1 on Tuesday evening to set up a quarter final matchup with Morocco. Debutant Ramos scored a spectacular hat-trick, with Pepe, Guerreiro and Leao also getting on the scoresheet.
An all European contest between Portugal and Switzerland brought the round of 16 to a close at the Lusail Stadium. Ronaldo was surprisingly dropped to the bench by Fernando Santos and replaced by 21 year-old Benfica man Goncalo Ramos. CR7 has in fact never scored a knockout goal in the World Cup, all eight have come in the group stage.
Santos revealed before the game how he did not like the way that Ronaldo reacted after being subbed off against South Korea in their final group game in which they lost in injury time.
But Santos’ decision proved to be tactically masterful as Ramos gave his country the lead 17 minutes in. It was a spectacular finish into the very top left corner from a tight angle. Sommer was left no chance and Ramos proved that he deserved a chance to start, even ahead of the great Cristiano Ronaldo. A big goal on a big stage and what a finish it was, sending the sea of green and red behind the goal into jubilation.
The Swiss attempted a response with a Shaqiri free kick that whistled past the post from all of 30 yards out. But Portugal looked more likely to score the next goal as Sommer made a couple of competent saves before a dangerous Fernandes delivery was nearly turned in by a Swiss defender.
Yet they did then double their lead from that corner as veteran Pele leaped highest to head home from close range to put his side in control. That was the way the first half ended, with Portugal in full command.
Just five minutes after the break, Goncalo Ramos grabbed his second. After a near post run, he flicked it through Sommer’s legs and into the net. It was a dream too good to be true for the young man who stepped up to the occasion and delivered an outstanding display of skill.
The Swiss were being completely outplayed and were left deflated as the game was put out of reach. It was four mere minutes later as the potent Portuguese began to demolish the Swiss. A great attacking move resulted in Raphael Guerreiro finding space on the left hand side of the box as he drove and finished into the roof of the net. It was the left back’s first international goal and Portugal were beginning to run riot.
Manuel Akanji did pull a goal back for Switzerland as Ramos flicked on a corner into the path of the Manchester City centre-half who finished into an empty net. Ramos this time at the wrong end of the stick but they still had a three goal lead.
There was no let off from Portugal as they searched for more goals instead of sitting back and defending what they already had. On 66 minutes, Goncalo Ramos grabbed his hat-trick, in a World Cup knockout game, on his international debut. Joao Felix slid it into him, and he took a brilliant first touch before dinking it over Sommer to make it 5 for Portugal and 3 for him.
It was a truly astonishing story for Ramos who was both magical and clinical on the pitch.
Ronaldo did get his chance to come on with under 20 minutes left to go but with the game already won there was little for him to do. The star man was already found in the form of Goncalo Ramos. A rare moment that Ronaldo was not in the spotlight, but his nation were heading into the quarter finals.
The business was not yet over, and Portugal grabbed a sixth through substitute Rafael Leao who bent a right footed shot into the corner in injury time. A rampant Portuguese side showed that they are to be reckoned with and Switzerland were left feeling sorry for themselves, completely and utterly outplayed in all respects.
Portugal now face Morocco on Saturday afternoon, the team who beat Spain on penalties, and manager Santos now has a crisis of who to start and who to bench on his hands.