lusail: With Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, the superstar striker’s replacement scored a hat-trick to lead Portugal 6-1 over Switzerland and into the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT).
Goncalo Ramos, a 21-year-old forward who only made his Portugal debut last month, made his first start for his country and demonstrated the kind of clinical finishing Ronaldo was once known for.
Ramos scored the opening goal in the 17th minute and added others in the 51st and 67th – by which time chants of “RONALDO! RONALDO!” swirled around the 89,000 seat Lusail Stadium.
Ronaldo, 37, came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute to loud cheers, although Portugal had already completed the game by then with defenders Pepe and Raphael Guerreiro also scoring. Rafael Leao scored another goal in stoppage time.
Manuel Akanji scored for Switzerland.
Portugal is through to the quarter-finals for the third time after 1966 and 2006 and will play against Morocco on Saturday.
Portugal coach Fernando Santos must now decide whether to stay with Ramos or reinstate Ronaldo, the top scorer in international men’s football and one of the game’s greatest players.
Ronaldo had a few chances after coming on and even thought he had scored when he ran through and fired a low shot past Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer.