Who is Goncalo Ramos - Portugal's hat-trick hero keeping Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench?

Hat-trick hero Ramos, 21, became the youngest player to strike three times in a World Cup knockout match since Pele in 1958

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Goncalo Ramos justified the shock decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring a hat-trick on his full debut as Portugal demolished Switzerland 6-1 on Tuesday to power into the World Cup quarter-finals.

The 21-year-old Ramos, who started instead of Ronaldo, became the youngest player to strike three times in a World Cup knockout match since Pele in 1958.

But who is Portugal's young upstart?

Who is Goncalo Ramos?

Born in Algarve, Ramos has burst onto the scene with Benfica this season after being given an enhanced role as the central striker following the sale of Darwin Nunez to Liverpool in the summer.

He has scored 14 goals in 21 games in all competitions, quickly adjusting to his new role.

Is he a regular starter for Portugal?

Ramos was only making his fourth appearance for the national side, having played 10 minutes across two games in the group stage.

He only made his debut on November 17 in a pre-World Cup friendly against Nigeria, coming on as a 67th minute substitute and promptly scoring 15 minutes later with the fourth goal in a 4-0 win.

Why was his call-up to the starting XI controversial?

No doubt Ramos has the potential to be a success, but the decision taken by Portugal boss Fernando Santos to start the 21-year-old ahead of Ronaldo was a bold one.

It took just 17 minutes for Ramos to reward Santos' faith, and to achieve something Ronaldo has never done – score in a World Cup knockout game.

Joao Felix clipped delicately into the feet of Ramos, who quickly swivelled past Fabian Schaer and rifled into the roof of the net past a stunned Yann Sommer.

Ramos turned in his second from close range six minutes into the second half from Diogo Dalot's cross down the right.

He completed his treble after outstanding work from strike partner Felix, nonchalantly dinking over Switzerland goalkeeper Sommer with one of his final touches before making way for Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo sits on the substitutes bench after being dropped for the match against Switzerland. EPA

What did he say?

Ramos said that his call-up ahead of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo was beyond his imagination.

"Not even in my wildest dreams did I think of making my first start in a World Cup knockout game and scoring three goals," he said.

"But we have to think game by game and prepare for the game [quarter-final with Morocco]. This result doesn't matter now. We're going to go all out in the next game."

Why was Ronaldo dropped?

Ronaldo, 37 and now without a club after his departure from Manchester United, has hogged the headlines during the tournament while looking a shadow of his former self.

The only man to score at five World Cups, Ronaldo was left out by Santos against the Swiss following his angry response to being substituted in the last group game - a 2-1 defeat to South Korea.

Santos later said the decision to bench the Portugal star had been "strategic and nothing more", unrelated to his substitution against South Korea.

What next for Ronaldo?

Ronaldo's introduction against Switzerland elicited the biggest roar at the Lusail Stadium, with fans chanting his name from the start of the second half. Ronaldo did have the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled out for offside.

His role for the remainder of the World Cup is something that has to be “defined”, Santos told reporters after the match, adding that the superstar striker "will definitely" be involved against Morocco. Ronaldo and Portugal have never won the World Cup, though he was an integral part of the squad that won Euro 2016.

Ronaldo's future in club football is also a hot topic, with Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr reportedly prepared to offer the former Real Madrid and Juventus player a mouthwatering £200 million-a-year contract.

Ronaldo has scored 118 Portugal goals - a world record - and is one shy of equaling Bader Al Mutawa's Fifa-recognised record of 196 international caps.

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Updated: December 07, 2022, 5:44 AM