FIFA WC: Ramos hat-trick fires Portugal into QF

Insight Online News

Lusail, Dec 7 : Goncalo Ramos scored the first hat-trick of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as Portugal reached the quarterfinals with an emphatic 6-1 victory over Switzerland.

Making his first international start, the 21-year-old Ramos opened the scoring in the 17th minute before Pepe doubled the lead with a thumping header on Tuesday.

Ramos struck again just after half-time and Raphael Guerreiro made it 4-0 by finishing off a brilliantly worked team goal.

Switzerland pulled a goal back in the 58th minute through a Manuel Akanji strike but the respite was short lived. Not satisfied with his brace, Ramos dinked home Portugal’s fifth goal before substitute Rafael Leao completed the rout in stoppage time.

The result means Portugal will meet Morocco at Al Thumama stadium in Doha on Saturday, with a berth in the semifinals at stake.

Ramos’ place in Portugal’s starting lineup came at the expense of Cristiano Ronaldo, who was dropped to the bench after unimpressive displays in his team’s last two group-stage matches against Uruguay and South Korea.

The move was vindicated when Ramos put his team ahead with their first shot on target. The Benfica forward received Joao Felix’s pass with his back to goal before turning to his left and rifling a shot that beat Yann Sommer for power at the near post.

Portugal were suddenly exuding confidence. Otavio Monteiro sent a bouncing attempt from the edge of the box straight at Sommer and Ramos again forced the Swiss keeper into action with a low 20-yard drive after Felix’s floating cross.

Switzerland’s defense looked a shambles and they conceded again just after the half-hour mark when 39-year-old Porto defender Pepe rose highest to meet a Bruno Fernandes corner with a thunderous header past Sommer.

The goal made Pepe the second oldest scorer at the World Cup, behind only Roger Milla, who was 42 when he netted against Russia in the United States 28 years ago.

Switzerland’s best scoring chance of the first half came when Xherdan Shaqiri hammered a 30-yard free-kick that was palmed away by a diving Diogo Costa.

But it proved a rare flicker of hope for Murat Yakin’s side as Portugal continued to push forward with menace.

Ramos went close to doubling his personal tally on the stroke of halftime as he ran onto Bruno Fernandes’ pass only to see his first-time effort turned around for a corner by Sommer.

Portugal maintained their intensity early in the second half. Diogo Dalot beat Ruben Vargas for pace on the right flank before sending a cross to the near post that Ramos fired home between Sommer’s legs.

Ramos then turned provider, combining with Felix and then releasing Guerreiro, who blasted the ball into the roof of the net.

Switzerland barely managed to enter their final third but reduced the deficit with a rare attacking foray near the hour.

Shaqiri’s curling corner deflected off the head of Ramos before falling for Akanji, who volleyed in at the far post.

But Portugal were irrepressible. They added a fifth goal when Ramos ran onto Felix’s pass and clipped a shot over the onrushing Sommer.

Ronaldo drew loud cheers from the near-capacity crowd when he replaced Felix in the 73rd minute. And the roar was almost deafening 10 minutes later after he drilled a low finish into the bottom corner only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.

Rafael Leao, an 87th-minute substitute for Fernandes, added further misery to Switzerland’s night when he played a one-two with Guerreiro before curling his effort into the far corner.

UNIINDIA

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