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Without Cristiano, Portugal sweeps Switzerland 6-1 and is in the quarterfinals

After all, Portugal does not depend on Cristiano Ronaldo.

To everyone’s astonishment, the crack was relegated to substitution in a World Cup. But the Portuguese team did not miss him, as his youth replacement in the starting eleven signed a hat-trick to crush Switzerland 6-1 on Tuesday and complete the table of the best eight in the tournament.

Gonçalo Ramos, a 21-year-old attacker who only made his debut with the national team last month, started for the first time and exhibited the same goalscoring success as the best version of Cristiano.

“I think that not even in my wildest dreams could I think of starting in a World Cup final round,” admitted the Benfica striker, who admitted that Cristiano and Robert Lewandowski are among his idols from a childhood that expired not long ago.

Veteran coach Fernando Santos’ impressive switch of offensive chips worked perfectly, and Portugal will face surprising Morocco in the quarterfinals.

“It is time to stop (with the controversy), it is not good, we are in a World Cup and I realize that sometimes people are not happy with anything,” Santos said. “Right now the most important thing is that four days there is a match against Morocco.”

Ramos opened the scoring at minute 17 with a masterful goal, added another at minute 51 and one more at minute 67 to complete the hat-trick.

“Honestly, no one in the team talked about it (his ownership), Cristiano is the captain and he did what he always does, he helped and supported us, not only me but also my colleagues,” Ramos said.

Pepe, Raphael Guerreiro and Rafael Leao added the other many Portuguese.

At 39 years and 283 days, Pepe became the oldest player to score in a World Cup knockout round. The central defender surpassed the mark of Cameroonian Roger Milla, who was 38 years and 34 days old when he scored against Colombia in Italy 1990.

Cristiano, who was upset when he was relieved in the match against South Korea for the last date of the group stage, entered the field of the Lusail stadium at 74 amid a thunderous ovation from the Portuguese fans.

By then the game was cooked.

“I already said recently that things have been resolved, it’s a finished matter,” Santos said of the decision. “(Cristiano) is one of the best players in the world, he is an example as a captain and with his goals and today he entered the field with all the desire”.

Manuel Akanji cut back after 58 minutes for Switzerland, which for the third consecutive World Cup was shipwrecked in the round of 16. His best performance was in the 1954 championship when they reached the quarterfinals as hosts

Portugal, who had lost the last two times they reached the round of 16, broke through to the quarterfinals for the first time since Germany 2006. They managed to reach the semifinals there, losing to France.

Sixteen years later, they will seek to return to that stage against Morocco, who defeated Spain on penalties.

Portugal resolved the match without Cristiano, the winner of five Ballon d’Ors and owner of an infinite record of goalscoring records who is playing the fifth and perhaps last World Cup of a career in sharp decline.

Although the strategy served him on Tuesday, the Portuguese coach does not know if he will repeat it against the Moroccans in the quarterfinals.

“It’s something that has to be defined, I have a great relationship with him, I’ve known him since I was 19 years old,” added Santos. “This relationship only grows, he and I know how to understand each other and we’ll do that, but I will always consider him as An important player on the team.”

Ramos did not miss the opportunity to be one of the three forwards in Santos’ scheme along with Joao Félix and Bruno Fernandes.

At minute 17, in a throw-in play, the Benfica attacker received the goal with his back, turned around and converted powerfully to the right corner.

Portugal extended their lead on a corner kick in which Pepe beat two markers and headed in to hit the ball across the middle of the arc.

Switzerland had their clearest shot at 39 with a header from Remo Freuler, but defender Diogo Dalot parried on the goal line.

After wasting an opportunity before the break, Ramos did not forgive at the start of the second half when Edimilson Fernandes sent him a low cross and the striker converted with a shot that went through the legs of goalkeeper Yann Sommer.

The rout took shape with a counterattack from the left crowned by Guerreiro.

With the Swiss out of their depth, Ramos added his third of the night with an angled shot and Leao sealed the account by billing at 90 with a shot to the left corner that left Sommer static.

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