Portugal coach Fernando Santos dropped Cristiano Ronaldo to the bench for the last-16 meeting with Switzerland and was rewarded with a hat-trick from replacement Goncalo Ramos and a stunning team display.
It was the first time in 31 games dating back to 2008 that Ronaldo had not started in a major tournament, and Santos expressed his displeasure at gestures made by him after he was substituted in the last group match against South Korea.
Portugal made light of the 37-year-absence old’s when Ramos, a striker for Benfica, scored the first hat trick of the tournament in his first international start to help his team advance to the quarterfinals against Morocco after their win against Spain on penalties.
28 – The round of 16 at the 2022 #FIFAWorldCup produced 28 goals; the most scored during this stage in a single edition of the tournament since the round of 16 was reintroduced in 1986 (excl. shoot-outs). Goals. pic.twitter.com/g4DsMCp8jr
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) December 6, 2022
Ramos violently crashed a 17th-minute shot into the top corner before a man 18 years his senior, veteran centre-back Pepe, become the second-oldest goalscorer at the World Cup behind Cameroon great Roger Milla.
The 21-year-old Benfica striker scored his second, and Portugal’s third, six minutes after the break by getting onto the end of Diogo Dalot’s low cross and he completed his hat-trick with a delicate dinked finish.
Raphael Guerreiro rifled in their fourth, before Rafael Leao completed the rout in added time with a curled finish. In between those, Manuel Akanji scored a consolation goal for the Swiss from a corner.