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