In a shocking move, Portugal head coach Fernando Santos benched soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo following his actions in the previous match against South Korea.
His replacement, 21-year-old Gonçalo Ramos, scored a hat trick to lead Portugal to the World Cup quarterfinals in a 6-1 win over Switzerland Tuesday in Qatar.
As Ronaldo sat with a yellow World Cup pinny on Portugal’s bench, Ramos got his squad on the board early with a surprising goal that stunned Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer. Ramos turned quickly after receiving a pass in the Swiss box and fired the ball off his left boot and into the net for his first career World Cup goal.
His second goal came on a low driven cross from Diogo Dalot in the 51st minute of the match. Ramos made a run to the near post and stuck a foot out to pinball the ball past Sommer.
About 15 minutes later in the match, Portugal found itself on another run with Ramos cutting to the right side and getting the ball. He flicked it to the back of the net and spread his arms out wide to the cheering crowd.
It was the first time a Portuguese player had scored a hat trick since Ronaldo did it during the 2018 World Cup. Ramos is also the youngest player to have a hat trick in a World Cup knockout match after Brazilian legend Pele.
WORLD CUP 2022: CRISTIANO RONALDO ABSENT FROM PORTUGAL LINEUP VS. SWITZERLAND
After scoring his hat trick, Ramos was among three Portuguese players who were subbed out, and Ronaldo entered the game in the 72nd minute.
In between Ramos’ goals was one by 39-year-old Pepe for his second career World Cup goal and his first in 2022. Pepe became the oldest man to score in the knockout stage of the World Cup.
He scored it on a header on a perfectly timed leap on a corner kick for Portugal’s second goal.
Raphael scored four minutes after Ramos’ second goal to make it 4-0.
Switzerland got on the board with a corner after Raphael’s goal as Manuel Akanji found the back of the net after the ball was mistakenly flicked on by Ramos in the box.
But it was all for naught. Rafael Leão buried Portugal’s final goal of the match in extra time to seal the deal.
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Portugal now heads to the quarterfinals to face Morocco. Portugal will likely be favored even though the Moroccan squad upset Spain Tuesday in penalty kicks. Spain went 0-for-3 on its attempts and was stunned when Morocco kicked in the final penalty to advance.
The question now for Portugal is whether Santos will have Ronaldo back in the starting 11 after Ramos put together such a wonderful performance in his first starting action of the World Cup.
The match with Portugal and Morocco will be played Saturday at 10 a.m. ET.
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