Portugal had no regrets about leaving out Cristiano Ronaldo as his replacement Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick in a superb 6-1 win over Switzerland in the World Cup last 16.
Ronaldo’s performance after coming on as a substitute for Portugal in the previous match led to a successful campaign and his drop ended his 31-game start for his country in the finals.
In his absence, his brothers produced one of the best performances to date as Portugal reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 2006, with Spain’s opponents in Morocco waiting.
Ramos, who replaced him, was five years old when Ronaldo scored his first World Cup goal and took just 17 minutes to open his account with a header past Yann Sommer.
Portugal extended their lead just before the break when Pepe, 39, became the second most prolific player in World Cup history from a corner, before Ramos finished the game with a last-gasp finish from the near-post.
Even left-back Raphael Guerreiro stepped up just before the hour mark, firing home from Ramos’ assist, before Manuel Akanji returned a consolation that was hardly worth celebrating.
Ramos came back from goal-scoring with his first hat-trick of this World Cup, beating Sommer bravely to prove his manager’s faith.
Ronaldo was brought off the bench shortly after and although Portugal added a sixth it was another youngster on the scoresheet in place of their big man, Rafael Leao doing well in the corner in extra time.
More to follow…