Gonçalo Ramos is the first player to score a hat-trick on his first FIFA World Cup start since Miroslav Klose for Germany in 2002.Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro and Rafael Leao on target in statement Portugal display.Fernando Santos’s team face Morocco in last eight on Saturday.
Goncalo Ramos woke up this morning relatively unknown outside his home country. The 21-year-old will rest his head on the pillow tonight after writing his name in World Cup folklore. Benfica player Ramos was the surprise pick of coach Fernando Santos, chosen ahead of the man at his fifth World Cup, the incomparable Cristiano Ronaldo.
What big boots to fill and by the end of the game Ramos would have needed a shoe horn to squeeze himself in. Portugal were irresistible, vastly improved on a pair of steady group stage victories over Ghana and Uruguay, and it was Ramos who started the party after 17 minutes. Joao Felix progressed into the box unchallenged, eventually feeding Ramos, who was granted freedom to turn by Fabian Schar, who was soon regretting his hesitation. Ramos unleashed a corkscrew shot that flew past Yann Sommer at the near post. It was not dissimilar from Ryan Giggs’ FA Cup semi-final strike beyond David Seaman in 1999.
Sommer saved from Ramos and Otavio and Portugal No1 Diogo Costa was worked by Xherdan Shaqiri’s dipping free-kick, before Portugal scored their second. Schar did well to divert a searching cross behind but when Bruno Fernandes sent over the corner, 39-year-old Pepe sprinted to the edge of the six-yard box to plant a header past Sommer and become the second oldest World Cup goalscorer behind Roger Milla of Cameroon.
There remained a semblance of a contest entering the second-half. That was until Ramos dashed to the near post to convert a low cross from Diogo Dalot, who jinked past Ruben Vargas to deliver form the right.
Now the shackles were completely discarded. Raphael Guerreiro stormed forward from left-back to complete a flowing move with a conclusive finish high into the net. Manuel Akanji toed in a consolation after Santos inadvertently helped a right-wing Switzerland corner to the far post. There was never a hint of Portugal bolting the back door to protect what they had. Santos skipped onto a Felix pass to apply an accomplished finish and score the first World Cup knockout stage hat-trick in 32 years. A lot of water – and world-class footballers – have passed under the bridge since then.
Rafael Leao came on to curl home and complete the rout. Moments earlier, Ronaldo, on as a substitute, ran through to put the ball in the net, only for an offside flag to halt the celebrations. It wasn’t his night. But it most certainly was a night that Ramos and all of Portugal will never forget.
Cristiano Ronaldo has never scored in a World Cup knockout stage fixture. Replacement Goncalo Ramos needed only 17 minutes to get off the mark in the 21-year-old’s first knockout-round appearance.
This was the first time since the play-off for third place in 1966 that Portugal scored twice in a knockout-stage game.
Pepe (39y 283d) is the second oldest player to score at the FIFA World Cup after Roger Milla (42y 39d) v Russia 1994.