Despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence in the round of 16 tie against Switzerland on Tuesday, Portugal defeated the Central European country 6-1 to sail to the quarter-final.
Gatekeepers News reports that Portugal boss Fernando Santos benched the captain of the team in the game that took place at Lusail Stadium in Qatar.
Meanwhile, Goncalo Ramos effectively maximised Ronaldo’s absence on the pitch by netting a hat trick for his national team at the 17th, 51st, and 67th minutes.
The 21- year-old became the youngest player to strike three times in a World Cup knockout match since Pele in 1958.
Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro, and Rafael Leao also made the scoreline at the 33rd, 55th, and 92nd minutes respectively.
Although Nigerian-born Swiss Manuel Akanji netted the only goal for Murat Yakin’s men at the 58th minute, that obviously wasn’t sufficient for a victory.
Coach Santos, who earlier insisted that Ronaldo was benched based on tactics, insisted on this after the game, “I already explained it (the situation surrounding Ronaldo being dropped), I won’t explain it again. They are different players. It was a game strategy, all the players are different, I also launched Dalot, Raphael, however, Cancelo is also a fabulous player. It was what I thought that we would need for this match against Switzerland.”
In the spirit of expecting the unexpected at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Morocco for the first time advanced to a World Cup quarter-finals after defeating Spain in a penalty knockout.
Morocco did the impossible to defeat 2010 World Cup winners Spain 3-0 on penalties after goalkeeper, Yassine Bounou saved all three penalties from the Spanish side.
Another major highlight of the match was when Spain-born Achraf Hakimi struck the decisive penalty in a shootout to send Morocco and embarrass the Spaniards.
Having advanced to the quarter-final, Morocco will face Portugal to book a slot in the Semi-final.