Twitter exploded when the Portugal starting lineup was announced for the game against Switzerland.
How could Fernando Santos bench Cristiano Ronaldo? Would it pay off?
The team responded with an emphatic yes.
Impressive team efforts overshadows benched star
It took just 17 minutes for Portugal to open the scoring. Gonçalo Ramos announced himself on the global stage in style. His shot rocketed past Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer at the near post. Prior to the tournament, Ramos was a name to keep an eye on, even if he did not draw the headlines. He’s been scoring goals for Benfica both in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and the UEFA Champions League.
The Portuguese team was relentless in attacking play in the first half. This was Portugal unleashed. Veteran defender Pepe added a second in the 33rd minute with a headed effort from a Portuguese corner. Halftime couldn’t come soon enough for the Swiss who were struggling to stop the devastating Portuguese attack.
Six minutes into the second half Gonçalo Ramos added a second, Portugal’s third. It started to become a question of how many goals Portugal would be able to score. The Swiss couldn’t keep up with the quick passing and fluid movement of Portugal’s front three.
Portugal take things from bad to worse for Switzerland
Even when the Swiss had the front three covered, the midfield and wingers were pushing forward in support. Raphaël Guerreiro came from a wide position to leather Portugal’s fourth goal. Perhaps the only bright moment in the game for Switzerland came as Manchester City defender Manual Akanji scored a consolation goal 3 minutes later.
However, in the 67th minute Gonçalo Ramos completed his hat trick. Though Cristiano Ronaldo has stolen plenty of headlines in the past two weeks. Today, all eyes were on Gonçalo Ramos. The 21 year-old has launched himself into contention for the Golden Boot. He’s now only 2 goals behind leader Kylian Mbappe.
Ronaldo was brought on in the 73rd minute. Though it was Rafael Leão, another sub, who was able to find the back of the net in injury time to cap off an impressive 6-1 victory. Ronaldo is chasing the World Cup record set by legendary Portuguese Eusebio. He’ll have to wait until Portugal take on Morocco in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
No one saw Switzerland capitulating the way they did. Take nothing away from Portugal’s brilliance, but the Swiss will be disappointed with the manner of the defeat. Insert your Swiss cheese jokes here.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Pressinphoto