Portugal manager Fernando Santos’ decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo for Goncalo Ramos against Switzerland in the FIFA World Cup last-16 has been acclaimed by fans.
It was a polarising decision, with many supporters criticising the Portuguese boss ahead of their quarter-final clash with the Swiss.
Ronaldo, 37, had started all three of Portugal’s group-stage games, netting one penalty in a 3-2 victory over Ghana.
However, the iconic forward struggled for form and seemingly irked Santos with his lack of professionalism after being substituted in a 2-1 defeat to South Korea.
Ramos, 21, who had earned just three international caps before tonight (6 December), made his first start for Selecao da Quinas.
Doubts over Santos’ choice to start Ramos were quickly diminished as the Benfica frontman enjoyed one of the best performances of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The young striker first netted the opener against Switzerland in the 17th minute.
He smashed a phenomenal strike past Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer from a tight angle.
Ramos was on the scoresheet again in the 51st minute, stealing in at the near post to place home a fine Diogo Dalot cross.
The Benfica striker then turned provider for Raphael Guerreiro with a fine assist in the 55th minute.
He then finished his performance by becoming the first player at the year’s FIFA World Cup to score a hat-trick.
The Portuguese forward is also the youngest player with a hat trick in a World Cup knockout stage game since Brazilian great Pele in 1958.
Ramos dinked the ball over the onrushing Sommer in the 67th minute to stun fans across the globe.
Pepe and Rafael Leao were also on the scoresheet for Portugal, while Manuel Akanji grabbed a consolation goal for Switzerland.
However, Selecao das Quinas’ incredible victory is attributed to the mesmerising performance of Ramos.
He well and truly replaced Cristiano Ronaldo with a display that has the world talking.
Ramos has now scored more FIFA World Cup knockout goals than the Portuguese captain.
Here are some reactions from fans on Twitter to a phenomenal outing from the young Benfica frontman.
Unlike justin talk
I didn’t think Santos had it in him. Respect.
Ramos >>> Ronaldo
@ESPNFC Fernando Santos dropping Ronaldo for Ramos just so he could score a hat-trick in his World Cup debut.
@ccam_92 @ESPNFC exactly. it’s a smart move and it worked out really well. ronaldo isn’t at his prime, obviously, but he is still an amazing player and arguably better off when he’s under more pressure. putting him in to end a game is the best option and it works really well.
Portugal manager Santos comments on dropping Cristiano Ronaldo for Ramos
Cristiano Ronaldo came on in the 72nd minute of Portugal’s 6-1 thrashing of Switzerland.
The iconic forward has failed to have much of an impact at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and Santos’ decision to drop him against the Swiss paid off.
The Portuguese manager was asked about dropping the former Manchester United attacker for Ramos.
He replied that there was no problem between himself and Cristiano Ronaldo and that he and Ramos are different players (via Fabrizio Romano):
“Cristiano and Ramos are different players. There is no problem with the captain of the national team. We’ve been friends for many years. He set the example of a captain.”
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