Wednesday Feb 1, 2023
Wednesday Feb 1, 2023

WC: Portugal beats Switzerland 6-1


Nepalnews
2022 Dec 07, 7:19, Qatar
Portugal's Goncalo Ramos celebrates after scoring his side's fifth goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal and Switzerland, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo)

In his first start for Portugal’s national team, Gonçalo Ramos showed that he has the goods — and the goals — to stand in for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Even at the World Cup.

The 21-year-old forward scored a hat trick Tuesday after surprisingly being called on to start against Switzerland in place of Ronaldo, the men’s record holder for most international goals. Portugal won the match 6-1 and advanced to the quarterfinals for the third time.

Those three goals, and the smoking pistols goal celebration, instantly made Ramos one of the sport’s hottest prospects.

Morocco, which will next play Portugal on Saturday for a spot in the semifinals, may not have known anything about Ramos before Tuesday. That has certainly changed.

Ramos had never played for Portugal before being selected in the World Cup squad last month. He was given the No. 26 shirt in the 26-man squad and played for only a few minutes as a late substitute in Portugal’s group wins over Ghana and Uruguay. He had zero attempts on goal in those games.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, prepares to enter as Portugal's Goncalo Ramos, right, walks during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal and Switzerland, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, left, prepares to enter as Portugal's Goncalo Ramos, right, walks during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal and Switzerland, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo)

The first hint that Ronaldo’s place might be at risk came Monday. Portugal coach Fernando Santos vented his frustration with his long-time star’s body language after being replaced in a 2-1 loss to South Korea on Friday.

Sure enough, 80 minutes before the start of the match at Lusail Stadium, Ronaldo’s name was missing from the starting lineup. Ramos was his replacement.

The final result made Santos look more like a mad genius than a madman.

Ramos scored early, giving his team the lead in the 17th minute. Passes then started flowing, attacks came in waves and consumed the Swiss opposition, leaving them seemingly unable to track the speed and mobility of playmakers like Fernandes, João Félix and Bernardo Silva.

Ramos was at the center of it all.

Ramos linked easily with a group of teammates he has barely played with, ghosting in at the near post to poke the ball in from close range for his second goal, and the team’s third, soon after halftime.

He created the fourth goal with a pass to Raphael Guerreiro and then completed his hat trick with a deft flick over onrushing Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer in the 67th minute.

Portugal's Goncalo Ramos celebrates after scoring his side's fifth goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal and Switzerland, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo)
Portugal's Goncalo Ramos celebrates after scoring his side's fifth goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Portugal and Switzerland, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo)

Seven minutes later, Ronaldo came off the bench and replaced Ramos on the field.

They next met in the center circle after the final whistle, the established star hugging his potential successor. Ramos was holding the match ball, the usual gift for a player who scores three goals.

The first hat trick at this year’s World Cup was only the fifth in the past three tournaments. One of those came from Ronaldo four years ago, when he was 33, in a 3-3 group-stage draw with Spain.

When Ramos returns to play for Benfica in the Portuguese league, he will no longer be under anybody’s radar.

Yet clues were there when the young forward stepped up a level this season to replace Darwin Núñez, now at Liverpool after another big-money sale by the Lisbon club. Led by goals from Ramos, Benfica is unbeaten both in Portugal and in the Champions League.

Ramos took to Instagram to share a happy message with his fans.

Portugal Switzerland Gonçalo Ramos hat trick Cristiano Ronaldo World Cup Lusail stadium
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