In a state of grace: Portugal qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday December 6 by sweeping Switzerland 6-1, without their star Cristiano Ronaldo, who entered only at the end of the match, but with a hat-trick from the substitute of “CR7”Goncalo Ramos.
The Seleçao, which had not reached this stage of the competition since 2006, will meet Morocco on Saturday December 10 (at 4:00 p.m.) as favorites. A little earlier, the “Atlas Lions” they created the sensation by eliminating Spain on penalties (0-0, 3 pens to 0).
Why did you leave Ronaldo on the bench? “I already talked about it. These issues are resolved, they are in the past”, swept away coach Fernando Santos in a post-match press conference. On Monday, he explained that he had “not liked at all” the gesture of humor of his star player during his substitution in the 65th minute against South Korea in the group stage (2-1 defeat).
The important thing: the collective
The Portuguese star, who is most likely playing his last World Cup at 37, finally came into play in the 74th minute, finding his armband to the ovations of an audience who had been chanting his name for fifteen minutes.
But the score was already 5-1 and the five-time Ballon d’Or goal in the 84th minute was ruled out for an offside position. He will still have to wait to score in a World Cup knockout match.
When the cat is not there, the mice dance and Ramos, who had played in all and for all only 33 minutes in selection before this evening, including twenty minutes in a friendly, took the opportunity to reveal himself in broad daylight. “I never dreamed of an event like tonight, never thought of starting and scoring three goals in my first match, I just wanted to play”he confided then.
The center forward at Benfica Lisbon did much better than that: at 21, he entered the elite of hat-trick authors in a World Cup, alongside giants like Pelé, Gerd Müller or Just Fontaine. He is even the youngest author of a hat-trick in a knockout match since Pelé in 1958.