Portugal, who dared to leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of the starting XI, flaunted their talent in a sparkling 6-1 win over Switzerland in the last Round-of-16 match of this World Cup at the Lusail Stadium on Tuesday. Goncalo Ramos, 21, netted a memorable hat-trick in his first World Cup start, while the 39-year-old Pepe, who became the oldest scorer in a World Cup knockout game, Raphael Guerreiro and Rafael Leao also got their names on the scoresheet as the Portuguese toyed with the hapless Swiss.
Replacing Cristiano, their captain and one of the biggest stars football has ever seen, Ramos grabbed the chance with both his hands. For his first goal, the Benfica player fired into the top corner at the near post from a seemingly impossible angle in the 17th minute, followed by his second (picture above) and third in the 51st and 67th minutes, respectively. He became the first player since Germany’s Miroslav Klose in 2002 to score a hat-trick on his first World Cup start.
Manuel Akanji got Switzerland’s consolation goal. Cristiano came on as Joao Felix’s substitute in the 73rd minute, but by then his team had already sealed the game. Portugal, who have reached the World Cup quarter finals for only the third time (after 1966 and 2006), will next face Morocco on Saturday. Tuesday’s win was also Portugal’s biggest-ever victory in the knockout rounds of the World Cup.