Portugal stormed into the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with their 6-1 thrashing of Switzerland in the round of 16 at the Lusail Stadium on Tuesday night. Goncalo Ramos struck a hat-trick on his first international start, while goals from Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro and Rafael Leao powered a Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal into the last eight of a World Cup for just the third time in their history.
The major talking point ahead of the
kick-off was the removal of Cristiano Ronaldo from the starting XI, with the
37-year-old placed on the bench in favour of Benfica striker Goncalo Ramos. It
was a brave call from Fernandos Santos to drop the veteran superstar in the knockout
stages, but the move was instantly vindicated as Ronaldo’s replacement, Ramos,
opened the scoring for Portugal in the 17th minute.
Starting in his first international
fixture, the 21-year-old collected Joao Felix’s pass in the penalty area before
blasting his shot from a tight angle into the top corner to beat Swizz
goalkeeper Yann Sommer. The Selecao doubled their lead shortly after through
Pepe, with the 39-year-old rising highest to meet Bruno Fernandes’ cross to
become the oldest scorer in the knockout stages of a World Cup.
Switzerland threatened to halve the deficit
before the break via a Xherdan Shaqiri free kick, but Portugal put the game to
bed shortly into the second half. Goncalo Ramos grabbed his second in the 50th
minute with a darting run to the near post and a clever finish from Diogo
Dalot’s cross through the legs of Sommer to make it 3-0.
Raphael Guerrero added a fourth goal just
four minutes later. The left-back smashed his strike into the roof of the net
in transition from a Ramos assist. Switzerland pulled one back through Manuel
Akanji from a corner, but Portugal restored their four-goal cushion as Goncalo
Ramos completed his hat-trick with a chipped finish into the corner.
Cristiano Ronaldo eventually came on in the
72nd minute and even had a goal ruled out for off-side, but Portugal did add a
sixth goal before the full-time whistle, with Rafael Leao curling one into the
top corner to put the icing on the cake for Santos’ side.
With this win, Portugal ended a run of five
consecutive winless games at the knockout stages of a World Cup stretching back
to 2006. The European side will face Morocco in the quarter-finals on Saturday,
who beat Spain on penalties in their round of 16 clash