The final game of the Round of 16 was a clash between two European countries who finished their groups with two wins from three matches, Portugal and Switzerland. In a game where everyone expected a tough match between the two, Os Navegadores shocked the world by hammering their opponent with the biggest victory (6-1) in the last 16 stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. What’s even more impressive is that Portugal thrashed the Swiss without starting their captain and the all-time leading goal scorer for men’s national teams, Cristiano Ronaldo. The game saw his replacement, Benfica’s 21-year-old forward Gonçalo Ramos steal the headlines by scoring a hat-trick in his first ever start in the quadrennial World Cup.
The Second Youngest Player to Score Three Goals in a World Cup Match
The Olhão-born striker made his national debut this year and has only scored once in his three appearances for Portugal. The first of his hat-trick tally came in the 17th minute after he hit home a thunderous shot from the left to the top left corner of the goal. He then added another two in the second half, a 51st minute tap-in delivered by another replacement, Diogo Dalot, and a 67th minute dink shot after his strike partner, João Félix tore the Swiss defence before feeding the ball to him.
Ramos’ hat-trick allowed him to match Miroslav Klose’s feat of scoring three goals in one’s first World Cup match. The 21-year-old also became the youngest player to get a hat-trick in the competition since Brazil’s Pele did it in the 1958 FIFA World Cup. The great Pele was only 17 years and 245 days old during the match against France in Sweden. Also on the scoresheet for the match was Pepe (Portugal, 33th minute), Raphaël Guerreiro (Portugal, 55th minute), Manuel Akanji (Switzerland, 58th minute) and Rafael Leão (Portugal, 92nd minute).
Goncalo Ramos is the youngest man to score a hat trick in a FIFA World Cup knock-out match after Pele 👶👏 pic.twitter.com/WxDQgDYtvM
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 6, 2022
What Now for Cristiano Ronaldo?
Ronaldo was subbed off in the 65th minute during the 1-2 defeat to South Korea in their final Group H encounter and the frustrated five-time Ballon d’Or winner was later involved in an altercation with South Korea player Cho Gue-sung as he left the field. In last night’s Round of 16 match against the Swiss, the former Manchester United star came to the game when it was already done and dusted, with his country leading 5-1. His contribution was countable, had a goal disallowed for offside and was not involved in his country’s final goal.
This prompts the question whether the Portugal manager, Fernando Santos will start him against Morocco in the quarterfinal. Nonetheless, the 68-year-old, who has worked with Ronaldo for eight years now in the national team, has iterated the change was “Tactical” since he has also replaced his first-choice defender, Manchester City’s star man João Cancelo with Manchester United’s Diogo Dalot agaisnt Switzerland.
(Photo Credits: The Indian Express)