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Goncalo Ramos Replaces Ronaldo, Scores Hat Trick in Portugal’s Rout of Switzerland

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Benched for a critical knockout game, Cristiano Ronaldo was once again all anyone wanted to talk about when it came to Portugal. But after a 6–1, last-16 win over Switzerland, it was his 21-year-old replacement, Gonçalo Ramos, who had the spotlight.

In his first World Cup start, Ramos scored a hat trick in 67 minutes to lead Portugal’s rout of the Swiss, who had stunned France in the knockouts at Euro 2020, and send Portugal into the World Cup quarterfinals for just the third time.

Ronaldo started all three of Portugal’s group stage games and scored the nation’s opening goal against Ghana, but he was taken off in the second half of a group-closing defeat to South Korea as manager Fernando Santos had expressed frustration with his attitude. Yet when Ronaldo came on late in the second half, the crowd erupted for the forward while Portugal’s newest hat-trick hero went off.

But Tuesday was all about Ramos. The Benfica forward came into the match with one goal in three appearances for Portugal and ended his night as the first men’s player since all-time men’s World Cup leading goalscorer Miroslav Klose to score a hat trick in his first World Cup start.

Portugal will next face Morocco, which defeated Spain on penalty kicks Tuesday, in the quarterfinals. Switzerland, meanwhile, has now been eliminated in the round of 16 in its last three World Cups, arriving in the knockouts after defeating Cameroon and Serbia and losing to Brazil.

Neither side could manage a shot on target in the first 15 minutes with Switzerland’s back three providing a stiff test for Portugal. In the 17th minute, Bernardo Silva found a path through the Swiss defense, cutting into the box before he sent a dangerous ball that was cleared away.

Moments later, Portugal took the lead thanks to the man charged with replacing Ronaldo in the starting lineup. Ramos took a pass inside the box, pushed it to his left and blasted a shot into the top corner at the near post to give Portugal a 1–0 lead.

Ramos had another clear chance in the 22nd minute when Silva found him at the edge of the box, but the 21-year-old’s shot was saved by Yann Sommer. 

In the 30th minute, Switzerland nearly secured a stunning equalizer when Xherdan Shaqiri hit a perfect free kick from distance that cleared the wall and nearly dropped into the bottom corner, but Portugal keeper Diogo Costa got a touch on it to send the chance wide.

Portugal added a second goal in the 33rd minute behind a header from Pepe. In his 132nd cap, the 39-year-old defender rose above the Swiss defense off a corner and sent a powerful header into the goal. With the goal, Pepe became the oldest men’s player to score a World Cup knockout goal.

In the 37th minute, Switzerland had another solid chance when Gelson Fernandes sent a cross into the box that was blocked by Costa. The ensuing chance bounced up to Remo Freuler, but his header at goal didn’t have enough power on it and was cleared away.

Ramos nearly had another goal on the counterattack when a perfect Bruno Fernandes pass sent him through on goal. But the Benfica forward’s sharp hit was pushed wide by a brilliant save from Sommer. 

Ramos got his second goal of the match in the 51st minute. Diogo Dalot sent a a low cross into the box where Ramos made a near-post run and flicked the shot between Sommer’s legs for the 3–0 lead.

Portugal scored a fourth goal in the 56th minute on the counterattack. Raphaël Guerreiro took a pass on the left wing from Ramos and blasted a shot over a sliding Sommer to add to Switzerland’s misery.

But Switzerland immediately pulled one back in the 58th minute off a corner kick when Ramos headed the cross to the back post where Manuel Akanji jumped on the chance for the Swiss, cutting the Portugal lead to 4–1. 

Ramos then notched a hat trick in the 67th minute. João Felix played the striker through on goal and Ramos easily sent his shot past Sommer to cap off an incredible day for the forward.

Ronaldo came on as a substitute in the 74th minute to overwhelming cheers as Ramos was subbed off. His first chance came in the 76th minute when he sent a free kick directly into the Switzerland wall.

Ronaldo appeared to scored in the 84th minute when he was played in on goal and finished with ease, but the former Manchester United star was well offside and the goal was called off.

Rafael Leão added to the tally when he came off the bench and scored in the 92nd minute. The AC Milan forward took a pass at the edge of the box from Guerreiro and put a stellar curve on his shot that curled past Sommer for Portugal’s sixth goal.

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