Goncalo Ramos scored the first hat trick of the World Cup, sealing Portugal’s resounding victory.
This was supposed to be an evenly matched game; Switzerland haven’t won a World Cup knockout game – or even scored a goal in one – since 1954, and Portugal, surprisingly for such a celebrated football nation, have only reached the last eight on two occasions. The first was in 1966, Eusebio and all that, and the second in 2006. There’s one survivor from that tournament in the current squad, you know his name.
But he was surprisingly ruled out of the starting 11. The last time that happened (2004), he was a teenager. But Portugal did absolutely fine -perhaps even better -without him.
Portugal seize control
It was a pretty cagey start, but Portugal quickly went to the front foot. Goncalo Ramos, 21, making his first international start ahead of the greatest player in Portugal’s history, put them in front with a belter.
Nothing much looked on when Joao Felix fed the ball into him, 12 yards out with his back to goal and Schar behind him. He shifted the ball onto his left foot, which made the angle even tighter, then suddenly roasted a rising drive that beat Sommer for pace at the near post.
Then Pepe, who is 40 in February, doubled Portugal’s lead and became the oldest player to score in the knockout stages. Fernandes curled a pacy, outswinging corner from the right towards the six-yard line, where Pepe got between Akanji and Schar to slam a header past Sommer.
Switzerland almost pulled one back before half time. Fernandes hammered a cross that was pushed away unconvincingly by Costa, but he recovered well to partially block Freuler’s follow-up header. Dalot completed the job by booting the loose ball clear.
The second half was much worse for Switzerland. Goncalo Ramos would get his second goal. The goal was made by Dalot, who gave Vargas a taste of his own by zipping down the right and driving a cross to the near post. Ramos got in front of Comert and flicked an instinctive finish that went through Sommer and into the net.
And then another one would be added to the tally.
Joao Felix played a give-and-go with Otavio on the halfway line, shuffled elegantly past a defender and zipped the ball into Ramos. He turned and played in the left-back Guerreiro, who rammed the ball into the roof of the net.
The Swiss would get their consolation goal too. Shaqiri’s nasty inswinging corner flicked off the head of Ramos – another assist for him – and Akanji volleyed into an empty net at the far post.
But Portugal – and especially Ramos – would not hit the brakes. Joao Felix slipped him in with a simple pass, and Ramos dinked the ball gently over the outrushing Sommer.
Cristiano Ronaldo was subbed on, trying out a goal that he knew was offside shortly afterwards. He took it well, rattling a left-footed shot past Sommer, but he was about four yards offside when the ball was played through.
The last goal would come from Leao. He played a neat one-two with Guerreiro, cut inside on the left edge of the box and whipped a curling shot around the flat-footed Sommer.
And so without CR7 starting, Portugal managed to score the most they have in the tournament. They played some exquisite football, maybe the best we’ve seen this week, and Ronaldo’s replacement Ramos scored a fairytale hat-trick.
Now they will face dark horse Morocco on Saturday in the quarter-final clash.