World Cup 2022: The man who replaced Cristiano Ronaldo - who is Goncalo Ramos? (2024)

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By Harry Poole

BBC Sport

Fifa World Cup

Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listings - Full coverage details

Before kick-off, all the talk was about Cristiano Ronaldo being dropped. By full-time, it was all about Goncalo Ramos.

The cameras were fixed on Portugal's all-time record goalscorer, whose reaction to being replaced during his nation's previous match had irritated manager Fernando Santos, as he took his place among the substitutes for the last-16 match against Switzerland at the World Cup in Qatar.

The bench was surrounded by photographers desperate to snap a picture of a discontented Ronaldo, absent from a Portugal starting XI at a major tournament for the first time since 2008.

But attention soon switched to the action on the pitch, as his 21-year-old replacement seized his chance with a wonderful hat-trick in a statement 6-1 victory.

A World Cup introduction to remember

When Portugal coach Santos took the decision to demote Ronaldo to the bench for the match, he could not have hoped for a better outcome.

Not only did his side score six goals in a World Cup knockout match, but the young man he called upon to step up delivered three goals on the biggest night of his career.

At 21 years and 169 days old, Ramos is the youngest player to score a World Cup hat-trick since Hungary's Florian Albert in 1962.

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The Benfica forward required just 17 minutes to announce himself in Qatar as he took one touch before blasting the ball past Switzerland keeper Yann Sommer at the near post to get Portugal up and running.

He all but ended the match as a contest shortly after half-time with a delicate second, nipping in at the near post to meet Diogo Dalot's low cross and make it 3-0.

A no-look pass assisted Raphael Guerreiro, before Ramos sealed his stunning treble - the first of this World Cup - with an assured chip over Sommer.

Replaced after 74 minutes, he ended the match having had the most shots (six), shots on target (five) and touches in the opposition box (six), in addition to his three goals from an expected goals value of 1.28.

As Ramos was substituted, ex-England goalkeeper Robert Green said on BBC Radio 5 Live: "That was spectacular by Goncalo Ramos. The performance of the World Cup so far, with everything that went on around it."

Who is Ramos?

While Ronaldo, with eight World Cup goals, is yet to score in six knockout appearances for Portugal at the tournament, Ramos already has three.

Ramos, who developed through Benfica's youth system, had played a total of just 33 minutes for Portugal in three appearances for his country before facing Switzerland on Tuesday.

That included one goal in a 23-minute friendly appearance against Nigeria in November, before a two-minute and an eight-minute cameo in the group games against Ghana and Uruguay respectively.

He then remained an unused substitute as an already qualified Portugal lost to South Korea.

However, given his first senior international start in the knockout stages of the World Cup, he delivered a performance that suggested he had been doing this for years.

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With 14 goals and six assists in 21 games for Benfica this season - including seven goals in his past six league appearances - Ramos is certainly not a player short on confidence at the moment.

But he could have only dreamed of how his first World Cup start would play out.

He is the first player to score a hat-trick on his first World Cup start since Germany's Miroslav Klose, the all-time leading men's World Cup goalscorer, in 2002, and he is Portugal's second-youngest scorer in World Cup history, after Ronaldo in 2006.

And, after this spectacular display, he will feel he has done everything he possibly can to secure a starting place for the quarter-final against Morocco.

What next for Ronaldo?

Image source, Getty Images

Asked about Ronaldo at full-time, Ramos said: "Cristiano Ronaldo talks to me and everyone in the team. He's our leader and always tries to help."

The end of the former Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United forward's 31-game streak starting at major tournaments for his country was always going to be big news.

But even he may have been surprised by the fuss around the dugout before kick-off, while the closest he could come to delivering for the sections of the crowd who had clamoured for his second-half introduction was a finish disallowed for a clear offside.

Given Ramos' influence, there can be no guarantee that the 37-year-old Ronaldo will reclaim his starting place against Morocco on Saturday.

Portugal boss Santos said he "really didn't like" Ronaldo's reaction to being substituted after 65 minutes of the defeat by South Korea in the final group game, which drew comparisons with how his time at Manchester United abruptly ended last month.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner denied directing an outburst towards his coach but, nonetheless, found himself among the substitutes against Switzerland.

Having become the first man to score at five World Cups earlier in the tournament, this devastating team performance may force Ronaldo to accept a less prominent role for his country.

Speaking on ITV, former England striker Ian Wright said: "This is a team that could easily go all the way and Ronaldo can still really contribute.

"If he gets it all right in his head, he could end up scoring the winning goal for them in the final."

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