The fallout of Ronaldo’s reaction to his substitution in Portugal’s previous game dominated the build-up to the knock-out clash and his demotion ended a run of 31 games he had started for his country at tournament finals.
2008 – Cristiano Ronaldo is not starting a game for Portugal at a major tournament for the first time since 2008 (also against Switzerland), ending a 31-game streak. Benched. pic.twitter.com/LW7MekodRa— OptaJoao (@OptaJoao) December 6, 2022
His countrymen shook off any drama around his absence with one of the performances of the tournament so far as Portugal reached the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2006, where Spain’s conquerors Morocco await.
Ramos, his replacement, was five-years-old when Ronaldo scored his first World Cup goal and needed only 17 minutes to open his own account with a thunderous effort that was past Yann Sommer before he could react.
3 – Gonçalo Ramos is the first player to score a hat-trick on his first #FIFAWorldCup start since Miroslav Klose for Germany in 2002. Midas. pic.twitter.com/AN976d87hP— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 6, 2022
Despite Cristiano Ronaldo starting on the bench, Gonçalo Ramos scored a hat-trick as Portugal defeated Switzerland in the round of 16.
Brazil put on a display yesterday, and Portugal did the same today.
And they did it (kind of) without Cristiano Ronaldo. The absence of Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo from the starting lineup was the main issue leading up to the game, but manager Fernando Santos’ decision was entirely vindicated, with Ronaldo’s replacement Gonçalo Ramos scoring a spectacular hat-trick.
Portugal were fluid in possession, with Ramos’ intelligent movement providing a target to strike in behind and space to work in for Bernardo Silva, Joo Félix, Bruno Fernandes, and others. Ramos’ finish was reminiscent of Ronaldo’s, who came in for the kid and received a standing ovation for the final 20 minutes.
The less said about Switzerland, the better. In the first half, they chose to play with three at the back and looked uneasy doing so, with Portugal able to slice them open time and again. Murat Yakin’s team is generally tenacious and difficult to break down, but that was not the case here. The Swiss had a bad night and didn’t provide much of a threat moving forward.
After the emphatic win, Portugal manager Fernando Santos addressed the situation surrounding Ronaldo and his reaction to being taken off in their previous game, saying: “What I think is most important is to stop this a little bit.” It’s difficult to be in the heart of the World Cup and see how unhappy people are. We must deal with it.
“I think those issues have been solved. I will always consider my role that he is a very important player to have in the team.”