Portugal have made it to the quarter-final of the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 2006 after a commanding performance which saw them brush aside Switzerland in their 2022 tournament round of 16 tie at the Lusail Stadium.
The first hattrick of the tournament was witnessed by the fans in the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium as Gonçalo Ramos, starting in his first game in the tournament in the place of Cristiano Ronaldo, made history.
The young Benfica striker was one of the few who was considered an afterthought by the media and Fernando Santos proved them right in the group stages, giving him only 10 minutes of game time in total. However, after the South Korea game, the veteran manager decided to discipline his star man and relegate him to the bench for the round of 16 tie against Switzerland to play Ramos in his stead.
Ramos’ goals were propped up by goals from Pepe, who was the starting captain on the night, Raphael Guerreiro and Rafael Leao. The Swiss got one goal back to reduce the margin but were unable to do much after to prevent the scoreline from ending 6 - 1. It was a good departure from the previous round of 16 games which went to penalties and it showed the quality of the Portuguese side, who have been said to be their best squad in a while.
Portugal run riot as Switzerland muster weak response
From the first minute of the game, it was all about Portugal, who were looking to break the round of 16 duck that they had suffered in the past three tournaments. Switzerland had more of the ball than they did, but they were unable to trouble the Portuguese backline of Pepe and Ruben Dias.
The game would come alive after only 17 minutes as the 21-year-old Ramos finished from a very tight angle into the roof of the net following a pass from Atlético de Madrid man João Felix after a well-worked throw-in. Three minutes after the hour mark, the veteran Pepe would become the oldest man to score at a FIFA World Cup knockout game. Bruno Fernandes, who is making a case for the player of the tournament award, whipped in a strong corner which was met strongly by the 39-year-old for Portugal’s second.
Switzerland were treated to more of the same in the second half, as six minutes into the half, Ramos would score his second from a Diogo Dalot cross. Four minutes later, Ramos would assist Portugal’s fourth for Borussia Dortmund fullback Raphael Guerreiro to finish into the top corner. Manchester City defender Manuel Akanji would pull one back for the Swiss, but it only served to make things worse for them as Felix would get his second assist of the night and Ramos would complete his hat-trick.
Cristiano Ronaldo was brought on to raucous applause for the hat-trick hero Ramos but he was unable to get his name on the scoresheet like his fellow substitute Leao, who scored in additional time to officially put the game to bed.
Portugal have now set up a very interesting quarter-final tie against Morocco, who have shown wildcard tendencies in the tournament so far. An interesting match is on the cards when both teams clash at the Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday 10 December.