Football News

Goncalo Ramos makes statement with hat-trick after replacing Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal 6-1 Switzerland

By Harry Edwards

Published: 21:10, 6 December 2022

Portugal proved that they don’t need Cristiano Ronaldo for success as Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick to help them beat Switzerland in the World Cup last 16.

While many football fans were focusing on Morocco knocking out Spain, reports from Qatar were surfacing that Ronaldo had been dropped from Portugal’s starting XI to face Switzerland.

The 37-year-old, who is without a club, had started in all three of Portugal’s group stage matches but only found the net once from the penalty spot in the opening 3-2 win over Ghana. The under par performances were joined by Ronaldo’s reaction to being taken off after 65 minutes in the defeat to South Korea, which was reportedly aimed at coach Fernando Santos.

There were some discussions on what Santos would do against Switzerland, and he shocked some by dropping Ronaldo altogether. On the surface it was a big call, given Ronaldo’s overall international goalscoring record, but the forward hasn’t shown up for Portugal in World Cup knockout stage matches in the past.

Starting in Ronaldo’s stead was 21-year-old Ramos, who only made his senior Portugal debut in a friendly against Nigeria pre-World Cup, and has played a total of 33 minutes in his three appearances – with one goal.

Making his full debut, Ramos could have so easily been overwhelmed by the occasion and the responsibility. But instead he played with freedom, alongside his Portugal teammates, out of the shackles that having Ronaldo in the XI places on them. And it was a night he will never forget.

It took Ramos just 17 minutes to make his impact on the world stage, collecting the ball inside the box following a throw-in and unleashing a powerful shot on his left foot from a slightly wide angle, beating Yann Sommer at his near post. A goal that truly set Portugal on their way to the 5-1 victory, Pepe doubled the lead before half-time but even he couldn’t take the attention away from Ramos.

Within 10 minutes of the second half, Portugal’s 2-0 lead became 4-0, as Ramos grabbed his second tapping in from close range and then set up Raphael Guerreiro. Switzerland did manage to pull a goal back but the advantage was once again stretched to four as Ramos ran in behind to get onto the end of Joao Felix’s pass, coolly dinking the ball over Sommer for his hat-trick.

The first hat-trick of the 2022 World Cup, Ramos also became the first man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup knockout stage game since Tomas Skuhravy did so for Czechoslovakia against Costa Rica in 1990. Not only that, Ramos was also the first player to score a hat-trick on his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose for Germany against Saudi Arabia in 2002.

Three goals and an assist, Ramos’ dream full debut came to an end in the 73rd minute as he was replaced by Ronaldo, and he has made it hard for Santos to drop him for the quarter-final against Morocco.

“He took a chance Santos, not just leaving out Cristiano Ronaldo but (Ruben) Neves, (Joao) Cancelo, with Cristiano Ronaldo as the big one. And it’s paid off for him in abundance,” Gary Neville said on ITV’s coverage of the match.

Ian Wright added: “It was very impressive. He played very well, scored a hat-trick to take all the headlines, and rightly so.

“His hold up play and everything was brilliant, but the first goal it set the stall for him because he scores a goal here that he’s not meant to score. He’s hit it so well, so early, so well, he’s not meant to score in that side of the goal but he’s done it and that set them on the road really.”

Ramos wasn’t the only man on fine form against Switzerland, with Felix showing the world what he is capable of when free from Diego Simeone’s clutches. And his performance earned him a big comparison from Nigel de Jong.

“You know what he reminds me of today,” De Jong told ITV. “Ricardo Kaka.

“The way he played, the way he picked players in between the lines. His runs that he made, being so crucial also for the passes he gave, the final passes. This link up play (with Ramos) is fantastic. I think Portugal have a bright future with these guys up top.”