Goncalo Ramos replaced Cristiano Ronaldo and scored a hat trick as Portugal stormed into the World Cup quarterfinals with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Switzerland on Tuesday.
Head coach Fernando Santos made a brave call to drop Ronaldo following a dispute in their last match, but Portugal proved to be free-scoring without him, setting up a quarterfinal clash with Morocco on Saturday.
Ramos, making his first international start at age 21, opened the scoring at the Lusail stadium with a rocket strike inside goalkeeper Yann Sommer’s near post before veteran defender Pepe, 39, became the oldest scorer in a World Cup knockout game with a thumping header.
Ronaldo was brought off the bench on 72 minutes, in time for Portugal to net their sixth and final goal with a superb strike from striker Rafael Leao in added time.
It was Portugal’s first knockout victory since the 2006 World Cup in Germany, having suffered a group stage exit (Brazil 2014) and round of 16 elimination (South Africa 2010 and Russia 2018) since then.