Portugal sailed through the round of 16, defeating Switzerland to reach the World Cup quarter-finals today.
Fernando Santos made headlines before the game when he chose to leave Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench in favour of Goncalo Ramos.
His decision was validated in the 17th minute when the 21-year-old opened the scoring. Joao Felix flicked the ball into him, and he turned and slammed into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
Moments later, Portugal doubled their advantage. Bruno Fernandes’ corner found Pepe, and the veteran powered his header into the net.
Switzerland were up against it, but had a couple of chances of their own. Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick was turned wide by Diogo Costa, and Remo Freuler saw his header cleared off the line by Diogo Dalot.
Shortly before half time, the Navigators almost put the game to bed. Fernandes played Ramos through on goal, but he was denied a second by a fine save by Yann Sommer.
But they were able to seal their progression early in the second half. Ramos was again the scorer, turning Diogo Dalot’s low cross in at the near post.
And not long afterwards, they added a fourth to their tally. Ramos turned provider this time, laying off for Raphael Guerreiro to finish into the roof of the net.
It wasn’t all despair for Switzerland, who managed to pull one back. Shaqiri’s corner took a deflection and fell to Manuel Akanji, who tapped in from close range.
But Portugal’s four-goal lead was soon restored, and it capped off a memorable night for Ramos. Felix fed the forward, and he raced through on goal before delicately lifting over Sommer for his hat-trick.
Ronaldo was brought on for the final 15 minutes, and managed to find the net after being played through on goal. However, the offside flag put a swift half to his celebrations.
Portugal put the finishing touches on a marvellous performance with a sixth goal in injury time. Guerreiro played the ball to substitute Rafael Leao, and he brilliantly bent a shot into the far corner.
The victory was Portugal’s first in a World Cup knockout game since 2006. They will face Morocco in the quarter-finals.
Diogo Costa (6/10) – Hardly tested all evening. Couldn’t do much about the goal.
Diogo Dalot (8/10) – Showed a lot of attacking threat while allowing little past him in defence. Assisted the third.
Pepe (8/10) – Grabbed a goal with a bullet header. Solid at the back.
Ruben Dias (7/10) – Rarely tested in defence. Calm on the ball.
Raphael Guerreiro (9/10) – A top-class performance. Took his goal brilliantly and got a late assist.
William Carvalho (7/10) – Shielded the backline well enough. Managed to nullify Switzerland’s creative players.
Otavio (7/10) – Helped control the game in the middle of the park.
Bernardo Silva (8/10) – Good on the ball as ever. Hardly gave possession away.
Bruno Fernandes (8/10) – Always a threat. Got an assist and could have had a couple more.
Goncalo Ramos (10/10) *MOTM* – Under the immense pressure of taking Ronaldo’s place, he rose to the occasion. Scored a hat-trick and also got an assist.
Joao Felix (9/10) – Linked the play brilliantly and grabbed himself two assists. Showcased his undeniable talent.
Cristiano Ronaldo (6/10)
Ricardo Horta (6/10)
Ruben Neves (6/10)
Rafael Leao (8/10)
Yann Sommer (4/10) – Questionable for a few of the goals. Made one good save before half time.
Edimilson Fernandes (5/10) – Showed some attacking threat early on, but couldn’t deal with Felix at the back.
Fabian Schar (5/10) – Struggled to deal with Portugal’s frontline. Substituted at half time with an injury.
Manuel Akanji (5/10) – Completely ran ragged at the back. Scored his side’s consolation.
Ricardo Rodriguez (4/10) – Powerless to prevent Portugal’s ruthless attacking power.
Granit Xhaka (4/10) – Got overran in midfield. Couldn’t get a grip on the ball and offered no protection for the defence.
Remo Freuler (5/10) – Worked hard, but got outclassed in midfield. Substituted early in the second half.
Xherdan Shaqiri (4/10) – Way below his best. Disappointing set-piece delivery.
Djibril Sow (4/10) – Completely anonymous. Difficult to remember him touching anything.
Ruben Vargas (5/10) – Ineffective in the final third. Unable to make anything happen.
Breel Embolo (5/10) – Caused some problems for Portugal’s centre-backs early on, but often found himself isolated up front.
Eray Comert (4/10)
Denis Zakaria (5/10)
Haris Seferovic (5/10)
Noah Okafor (5/10)
Ardon Jashari (NA/10)
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