The Portuguese talisman scored a crucial hat-trick to take his team to the final of the tournament.
It was never going to be an easy ride for Portugal against Switzerland in the semifinals of the inaugural UEFA Nations League. However their talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo, definitely made it look so. The 34-year old simply can’t stop scoring as he came up with another stupendous performance to propel his side to a 3-1 win over the Swiss.
It was a close affair in the first half with both teams enjoying a good amount of possession. However, Fernando Santos’ men had the advantage of going into halftime as Ronaldo came up with an inch-perfect freekick to break the deadlock.
Vladimir Petkovic’s men reciprocated well with a controversial penalty as Ricardo Rodriguez converted it from the spot. But eventually, it went in vain as Ronaldo struck twice in quick succession to inspire his side to the finals.
5. Did Fernando Santos miss a trick by starting young Joao Felix?
Joao Felix is probably on the brightest prospects in world football currently. He has proven his credentials at Benfica this season. However, throwing him in the line of fire right from the start in a crunch fixture against Switzerland was asking too much from the 19-year old.
People in Portugal see him as the likely successor to Cristiano Ronaldo but Felix needs to improve a lot before he can reach that stature. Felix hardly had any impact in the game and was dispossessed way too many times as he struggled to hold the ball against sturdy Swiss midfielders.
It will be a learning curve for the youngster as he will only get better from here but it could have backfired for Santos and his men.
4. Did Portugal get the raw end of the controversial penalty call?
The penalty call in the second half was the most controversial moment in the game as both sides were in course of having a kick from the spot. It was Steven Zuber who was brought down in the box as the referee waived to continue play.
Interestingly Bernardo Silva was also brought down on the other end with the referee pointing to the spot. However, things changed as the match official started reviewing about the earlier incident involving Zuber.
After a considerable amount of checking via VAR the match official decided to award Switzerland a penalty. Although in hindsight there was slight contact from Nelson Semedo and not enough for Zuber to trip down. Portugal were on the receiving end of things as their own penalty got denied and they conceded from the other.
3. Has Cristiano Ronaldo done enough to silence his critics?
The boy from Madeira is a man now but it seems like even at 34 year age, Ronaldo plays with the same intensity which he used to play in his younger days. He had a bit of everything in him against Switzerland and simply propelled his side’s average outing into a 3-1 win. Firstly it was a tremendous freekick as the venom in the ball did not allow Yann Sommer to move an inch.
He followed it up with another stunning goal, proving his sense of positioning and being at the right place at the right time. He topped everything up with a fantastic curler to put the final nail in the Swiss coffin. He has once again silenced all his critics about his goal-scoring ability and never fails to prove that age is just a number.
Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick for Portugal against Switzerland in Nations League final. pic.twitter.com/MaQTcHZQmk
— metroPR Nigeria (@metroPRng) June 6, 2019
Match Highlights: Portugal 3-1 Switzerland
2. Missing chances early in the game came back to haunt the Swiss?
It was a positive start for the Red Crosses as they were led by the inform Haris Seferovic upfront. The 27-year old marksman has had a terrific season in Portugal with Benfica. Switzerland national team manager Vladimir Petkovic was expecting something similar from his inform striker. However, Seferovic was seen squandering chance after chance in the first half which came back to haunt the Swiss.
Xherdan Shaqiri also had his chances early on in the game when Petkovic’s men were literally in the ascendancy. But none of the players showed conviction in front of goal as crosses from Zuber and Mbabu from either flank went in vain.
It is something which the coach and the players will look to improve as they could have had a two-goal advantage within in the first half hour.
1. Is this Portugal’s shot at redemption after the 2004 Euro defeat against Greece on home soil?
The Selecção das Quinas have come a long way after that horrific 2004 Euro finals defeat against Greece at the Estadio de Luz. Since then Fernando Santos’ men are a completely different side, they have won the 2016 Euros beating France in the finals.
They have shown that they are no pushovers when it comes to international tournaments. However, wounds of that defeat at their home soil are fresh and winning the UEFA Nations League can be Portugal’s shot at redemption.
Fernando Santos’ men would love to payback their fans by winning an international trophy on their home soil. They will play the winner of the other semifinal between England and Netherlands and winning that match will prove Portugal’s credentials once again. It is the perfect opportunity for Ronaldo and company to exercise the ghosts of the past and put them to rest.