Portugal poke more holes on Swiss cheese as they put six past Switzerland
Gonçalo Ramos' incredible hat-trick propelled Portugal to a resounding 6-1 victory over Switzerland at the Lusail Iconic Stadium, securing the Seleção a berth in the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals for just the second time since 1966.
The majority of pre-game discussion focused on Fernando Santos' choice to bench Cristiano Ronaldo after the forward's outburst during Portugal's last group game against South Korea when he was replaced. As a result, the opening exchanges of the match were tense. Despite an unremarkable beginning, Ramos—the player who took Ronaldo's position in the Portuguese starting 11—soon stole the show with a beautiful angled strike that soared past Yann Sommer, who was caught off guard.
Encouraged by the first goal, the Seleção went in search of a swift second goal, and they duly extended their lead in the 33rd minute when veteran center-back Pepe expertly headed in a fantastic Bruno Fernandes corner. Even the most devoted Swiss supporters could not predict a miraculous comeback because it had been June 1938 since their country had last rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win a game at the World Cup finals. It appeared to be a genuinely catastrophic blow.
Within the first 10 minutes of the second half, Portugal scored two expertly taken goals, putting an end to any aspirations of an unexpected comeback from the present generation. The first goal came from Ramos, who was the first to react inside the six-yard box to tap in a Diogo Dalot cross, and the second came from Raphael Guerreiro, who completed a slick team play with a powerful strike into the roof of the net.
Despite the Portuguese pressure, Switzerland was able to score right away through Manuel Akanji. However, this did little to stop the Portuguese attack, as Ramos soon added another goal to complete his hat trick with a clipped finish over Sommer. By doing so, he made guaranteed Portugal would at least match their biggest margin of victory over a European country at the World Cup finals since Pauleta’s treble helped to smash Poland 4-0 in Jeonju 20 years ago.
Rafael Leão, a substitute, added another goal late to give Portugal, the Euro 2016 winners, a four-goal advantage and the luxury of using Ronaldo off the bench for the final 20 minutes. This gave Portugal the best possible momentum going into an intriguing matchup with surprise package Morocco, which earlier tonight eliminated Spain on penalties.