Footy Times

Goncalo Ramos nets hat trick as Portugal rout Switzerland to reach WC quarterfinals

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Goncalo Ramos came on in place of Cristiano Ronaldo and scored three goals as Portugal cruised into the World Cup quarterfinals with a 6-1 victory over Switzerland on Tuesday.

Following a disagreement in their previous match, head coach Fernando Santos made the brave decision to bench Ronaldo, but Portugal proved to be free-scoring without him, setting up a quarterfinal clash with Morocco on Saturday.

Ramos opened the scoring at the Lusail stadium with a rocket strike inside goalkeeper Yann Sommer’s near post, before veteran defender Pepe, 39, became the oldest scorer in a World Cup knockout game with a thumping header.

To begin the second half, Ramos got on the end of defender Diogo Dalot’s low cross and tapped home between Sommer’s legs. Raphael Guerreiro made it four with a powerful strike after a well-executed team move.

Switzerland equalised on 58 minutes when Manuel Akanji found space at the back post from a corner and comfortably nodded in, but it was not enough to spark a comeback, with Ramos scoring his third with a deft chip over an onrushing Sommer, becoming the youngest male player to do so since Brazil legend Pele in 1958.

Ronaldo came off the bench on 72 minutes and had a goal ruled out for offside, but Portugal still had time to score their sixth and final goal in added time, thanks to a superb strike from substitute Rafael Leao.

It was Portugal’s first knockout victory since the 2006 World Cup in Germany, when they were eliminated in the group stage (Brazil 2014) and the round of 16 (South Africa 2010 and Russia 2018).

The game came to life in the 17th minute when Ramos picked up Joao Felix’s incisive pass before blasting the ball into the top corner from a tight angle to put the Portuguese ahead.

They doubled their lead in the 33rd minute, when Pepe timed his leap perfectly to rise above the two Swiss centre backs and head home from a Bruno Fernandes corner, leaving Sommer well beaten.

Despite the odd surging run into the final third, Switzerland striker Breel Embolo was frustrated by the Portugal defence, while their best chance of the half came when Xherdan Shaqiri’s free kick was pushed out for a corner.

Sommer, who had recovered from illness, did well to deny Ramos his second goal of the half with a fingertip save from a counter-attack as the Portuguese led 2-0 at halftime.

However, Sommer was helpless when Dalot sent in a cross six minutes after the restart, with Ramos in the right place again at the near post to slip the ball between Sommer’s legs and give Portugal a three-goal lead.

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