Goncalo Ramos scored a hat-trick to guide Portugal into the World Cup quarter-finals courtesy of a 6-1 demolition of Switzerland.
It took Ramos 17 minutes to score, and he would ultimately have a hand in four goals.
Pepe, captain in Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence, got Portugal’s second and Ramos also teed up Raphael Guerreiro, with Manuel Akanji’s consolation for Switzerland prior to Ramos’ hat-trick goal and Rafael Leao’s late stunner a mere footnote.
Ramos’ opener was entirely out of keeping with a dull opening.
Joao Felix passed into the left side of the area and, after taking a touch, Ramos sent a bullet of a left-footed strike into the top-left corner from a tight angle.
A fingertip Diogo Costa save from Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick just before the half-hour kept Portugal in front and they capitalised three minutes later as Pepe headed home Bruno Fernandes’ corner.
Any hope of a turnaround was swiftly put down by two goals early in the second half.
Ramos first turned in Diogo Dalot’s low cross before the striker unselfishly teed up Guerreiro.
Akanji knocked in at the back post after a Portugal defender inadvertently flicked on a corner, but the deficit was four again soon after – Ramos’ impudent dink over Yann Sommer completing a memorable treble.
He was later brought off as Ronaldo – who had a late goal disallowed for offside – entered, but Portugal were not done yet, with Leao burying a gorgeous curler in stoppage time.
Ramos rules the roost
This was one of the most devastating full World Cup debuts you are ever likely to see. Ramos had six shots here and scored three of them, while also showing great awareness to set up Guerreiro.
His hat-trick made him the first player to score three on his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose in 2002 – that is some act to follow.
Fernandes delivers again
Manchester United star Fernandes is having a fine tournament. No player managed more goal involvements than him in the group stages (four), and he was a creative nuisance once again here, claiming another assist from a team-high three key passes.
Key Opta Facts
– Portugal have reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup for just the third time, after 2006 and 1966, ending a run of five consecutive knockout games at the tournament without a victory (D1 L4).
– Switzerland have failed to progress in all five of their World Cup matches in the round of 16, conceding six goals in a knockout round match at the tournament for the second time, after a 7-5 defeat to Austria in the quarter-final in 1954.
– This was Portugal’s biggest ever victory in the knockout rounds of the World Cup, scoring six goals outside the group stages for the first time.
– At 21 years and 169 days old, Gonçalo Ramos became Portugal’s second youngest goal scorer in World Cup history after Cristiano Ronaldo (21y 132d in June 2006), while he’s the first player to score a hat-trick on his first World Cup start since Miroslav Klose in 2002.
Portugal will play Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on Saturday after the Atlas Lions stunned Spain. Switzerland’s tournament is over.