In lieu of Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal defeated Switzerland 6-1 in the World Cup round of 16, and Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick. Portugal had no misgivings about benching Ronaldo.
The build-up to the knockout match was dominated by Ronaldo’s response to his substitution in Portugal’s previous game, and his relegation put an end to a run of 31 games he had started for his country in tournament finals.
Portugal advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2006 thanks to one of the best performances of the competition thus far, where Spain’s opponents Morocco await.
Ramos, his successor, took just 17 minutes to score his first World Cup goal with a thundering effort that went past Yann Sommer before he could react. Ramos was five years old when Ronaldo netted his first World Cup goal.
Before the half, Portugal increased their lead when Pepe, 39, scored from a corner to become the second-oldest World Cup scorer ever. Ramos then put an end to the match with a poacher’s finish at the near post.
Just before the hour, even left-back Raphael Guerreiro participated, rifling home an inviting Ramos assist, before Manuel Akanji stabbed home a consolation that hardly called for a celebration.
Ramos made a triumphant comeback with the first hat-trick of this World Cup, deftly chipping Sommer to resoundingly prove his manager’s confidence.