With Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, the superstar striker's replacement scored a hat trick to lead Portugal over Switzerland 6-1 and into the World Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday. Goncalo Ramos, a 21-year-old forward who made his Portugal debut as a substitute last month, started for the first time for his country and demonstrated the kind of clinical finishing Ronaldo was once known for, the AP reports. Ramos scored the opening goal in the 17th minute and added others in the 51st and 67th—by which time chants of "Ronaldo! Ronaldo!" were swirling around the 89,000-seat Lusail Stadium in Qatar. Ronaldo was dropped a day after his coach expressed unhappiness at the striker's attitude after he was substituted against South Korea in the team's final group game.
The 37-year-old Ronaldo entered as a substitute in the 72nd minute to loud cheers, though Portugal had the game wrapped up by then, with defenders Pepe and Raphael Guerreiro also scoring. Rafael Leao added another goal in stoppage time. Manuel Akanji scored for Switzerland. Portugal advanced to the quarterfinals for the third time, after 1966 and 2006, and will play Morocco on Saturday. Portugal coach Fernando Santos now has to decide whether to stick with Ramos or restore Ronaldo, the top scorer in men's international soccer and one of the game's greatest players ever. Ronaldo had a couple of chances after coming on, and even thought he had scored when he ran through and drove a low shot past Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer. The goal was disallowed for offside, much to the irritation of the fans—Portuguese or from other countries—who had come to see him.
After the final whistle, as Portugal players stayed on the field to applaud the team's fans at one end of the stadium, Ronaldo walked off on his own. He is without a club after leaving Manchester United midway through the World Cup; that team also played better once it benched the superstar, Yahoo Sports points out. Ramos was a surprise replacement—he had only made three substitute appearances for Portugal. His hat trick was the first of this year's World Cup, and he achieved something Ronaldo has not by scoring a knockout goal in soccer's biggest tournament. He also had an assist. Ronaldo was seen smiling while he was warming up on the side of the field after Ramos' second goal.
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