Portugal 3-1 Switzerland: Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick sends hosts to Nations League final
Portugal through to Nations League final to play either Netherlands or England on Sunday in Porto
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 06/06/19 9:49am
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a superb hat-trick to send hosts Portugal to the Nations League final after a 3-1 win over Switzerland in Porto.
A Ronaldo classic from a 25-yard free-kick had Portugal ahead (25), though Switzerland went close through striker Haris Seferovic either side of the opener.
But the Swiss were level in controversial fashion as they were initially denied a penalty, before Portugal went up the other end and instantly won a penalty of their own through Bernardo Silva. But, after a VAR check, the initial Swiss penalty appeal was given by VAR for a tug from Nelson Semedo on Steven Zuber, allowing Ricardo Rodriguez to tuck away the penalty (57).
Switzerland threatened to grab a winner, but it was Portuguese legend Ronaldo who won it, putting the hosts back ahead with a low, first-time finish (88), before cutting in to find the bottom corner (90).
Portugal will now play in Sunday's final against the winners of England's clash with the Netherlands, who play on Thursday night.
Joao Felix, linked with several top clubs across Europe, made his Portugal debut at just 19, starting alongside Cristiano Ronaldo in a strong side for the hosts.
For Switzerland, Schar, Shaqiri and Seferovic all returned to the starting line-up after the 3-3 draw with Denmark in March. Embolo was out, returning to Schalke after picking up an injury in training last week.
How Ronaldo ruled on big stage again
The Swiss were underdogs but impressed in the opening stages, going close as Xherdan Shaqiri forced a good save at close range by Rui Patricio, before the Liverpool midfielder's dangerous cross evaded both Seferovic and the post by inches.
They were made to pay by Ronaldo on his Nations League debut, the forward stepping up to strike a trademark free-kick into the bottom right corner from 25 yards, with the wall and goalkeeper Yann Sommer expecting the effort to go left.
Switzerland reacted well, however, and could have been level just before the break as Seferovic dug out a shot from Kevin Mbabu's centre, only for it to hit the top of the crossbar.
VAR then helped Switzerland equalise as Zuber went down from a slight nudge from Semedo; initially German referee Felix Brych waved away appeals, before Portugal attacked and won their own penalty from Fabian Schar's cynical trip on Bernardo Silva.
Then came a few minutes of chaos as referee Brych went to the pitchside screen to check the initial Swiss appeal, giving the visitors the penalty to the dismay of the home crowd, as Rodriguez scored despite Patricio guessing the correct way and getting a touch.
Switzerland looked the more likely to win it until Ronaldo turned it on with two goals in three minutes. The first came from a finely-struck, first-time effort from 15 yards after nice work from Bernardo Silva on the right flank, before Granit Xhaka gave away possession in midfield, allowing Ronaldo to cut onto his right foot inside the box and find the far corner for his 53rd career hat-trick.
The Porto crowd sang Ronaldo's name in adulation, proving that the 34-year-old can still make all of the difference on the biggest stage.
'Ronaldo is a genius'
Portugal manager Fernando Santos had one key word to describe hat-trick hero Ronaldo after his match-winning display...
"There's no adjective to describe him. He's a genius. You can be a genius in art, and in sculpture and he is a football genius."
- Portugal have lost just one of their last 16 games across all competitions (W6 D9) and are unbeaten since a 2-1 defeat against Uruguay in the 2018 World Cup (P9 W4 D5 L0 since).
- Cristiano Ronaldo's 53rd hat-trick for club and country (seven for Portugal) ended his four-game goalless streak for Portugal; he has now scored five goals in six previous semi-final appearances for Portugal (incl. World Cup, European Championships, Confederations Cup and Nations League).
- Two of Ronaldo's last five goals for Portugal have come from direct free-kicks; only two of his previous 52 goals prior to this were scored in the same manner.
- Five of Ricardo Rodríguez' last six goals for Switzerland have come from the penalty spot, including each of his last three.
The Manchester giants have been linked with Joao Felix but his Portugal debut did not go to plan, writes Adam Bate...
Nations League live on Sky Sports
You can watch every minute of the Nations League finals live on Sky Sports.
Netherlands vs England - Thursday 6 June from 7pm, live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event; Kick-off at 7.45pm.
Watch England in the Nations League Finals
Get Sky Sports Football to watch England in the UEFA Nations League Finals. Find out more here.
Third and fourth place play-off - Sunday 9 June from 1.30pm, live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event; Kick-off at 2pm.
Nations League final - Sunday 9 June from 7pm, live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event; Kick-off at 7.45pm.