Goncalo Ramos

In just 90 minutes, the future of the Portugal national team post-Cristiano Ronaldo may have been solidified.

Whether it was from Ronaldo’s reaction to being subbed out of the South Korea match or merely tactical, Portugal manager Fernando Santos benched Ronaldo in favor of 21-year-old Gonçalo Ramos, who had minimal minutes as a sub in the group stage.

With his first major opportunity to make a name for himself, the Benfica striker only just scored the first hat trick of the 2022 FIFA World Cup as Portugal cruised to a 6-1 victory.

Ramos’ first goal was one of the goals of the tournament. He blasted the shot near post so hard that Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer couldn’t react in time.

Ramos wouldn’t score his second until just after the second half started. In the 51st minute, with Portugal already up 2-0, Ramos got the cross from Diogo Dalot and poked the ball through Sommer’s legs for the brace.

That would’ve been an awesome day for Ramos but he wasn’t done. With a 4-1 scoreline, Ramos got his third goal of the match by matching up 1v1 with Sommer and chipped the ball in the back of the net.

Ronaldo was subbed on for Ramos in the 74th minute but the match was already decided long before he had a chance to make an impact. Ronaldo scored once but he was at least a few yards offside and the goal didn’t count. Ronaldo still doesn’t have a goal in the knockout round of a FIFA World Cup.

It’s a small sample size but Portugal played really well without their star. We know this is likely Ronaldo’s last World Cup but Portugal may have found out they can move on without him before he retires from international competition. At the very least, Portugal feels like they have a situation where Ronaldo can come off the bench in case of extra time or penalties, where he can still be effective.

With the win, Portugal faces Morocco in the quarterfinal. Morocco doesn’t let teams score. In fact, the only goal they allowed was an own goal against Canada. Morocco might be an unlikely quarterfinal test but they might be Portugal’s toughest test at the FIFA World Cup.

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @phillipbupp