Portugal defeated Switzerland 3-1 in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League yesterday.
Cristiano Ronaldo, as usual, was the difference maker as his hat-trick pulled the Portuguese through.
Ricardo Rodriguez scored the solitary goal for the Swiss through a comical sequence of events that finally led to a penalty for the Swiss that he converted successfully.
Portugal vs Switzerland
You cannot go far on any social media without laying eyes on Ronaldo’s trademark celebratory pose.
Fans have been idolizing him for past few hours for his mesmerizing display against the Swiss. However, that does not tell the whole story of the match.
The Swiss were the superior side for a major part of the match. Xherdan Shaqiri and Haris Seferovic being a thorn in the Portuguese defense. Ask Nelson Semedo and Raphael Guerreiro for that matter.
Shaqiri tormented them for a good 90 minutes, twisting here and there and putting in crosses left, right and center into the box. Pepe had his hands full with Seferovic who was almost at the end of every ball put into the box.
The first chance of the game fell to Shaqiri as he was released through by a flick from Zuber. But Patricio was up for it as he charged forward and made himself big to prevent Shaqiri from flicking the ball over him.
A few minutes later, Akanji almost gifted a goal to Portugal as he gave the ball away to Bernardo Sliva, leaving them with a 2v2 situation. Luckily, Ronaldo dragged his shot wide.
This game was definitely not going to end in a stalemate. And the breakthrough came soon enough. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a stunning free kick to raise the roof of the Estadio Do Dragão.
He caught Sommer on the wrong foot as he went for power towards the keeper rather than the orthodox over the wall technique. The power and dip on the ball were enough to get it past the Swiss keeper.
The Red Crosses got back into the game through one of the most entertaining sequences of events in the second half. First, it appeared as if Zuber had been taken down by Semedo, however, the referee waved play on and then Bernardo Silva was fouled on the other end by Schar.
The referee awarded the penalty to Portugal only to be advised by the VAR referees that the Swiss be awarded the penalty. Ricardo Rodriguez made no mistake and converted the penalty.
The game looked evenly poised until the 88th minute when Ronaldo unleashed the beast and got his hat-trick in the space of 2 minutes. The first being a first-time finish from about 15 yards from a Bernardo Silva cross and the second was a beautiful curler into the bottom corner. Typical Cristiano Ronaldo.
Backlash for Granit Xhaka
Another highlight from the game that has been picked up by fans other than the Ronaldo hat-trick was Granit Xhaka’s mistake that led to the third goal.
He got caught in two minds and ended up losing the ball in midfield. He lost the ball to Bernardo Silva who laid the ball off to Gonçalo Guedes kick-starting a 2v2 counter.
Ronaldo did what he couldn’t do in the first half and finished splendidly by cutting inside Akanji and getting his 88th goal and 53rd career hattrick.
Xhaka faced some amount of backlash from fans, especially from Arsenal supporters.
They have been after him the whole season.
He did not help his case with a lackluster display against Chelsea in the Europa League final. He was one of the scapegoats from the match and it seems they have not forgotten about it yet poking fun at him for his mistakes and performances.
The Swiss international’s future with the Gunners has been subject for speculation as Inter Milan seem to be interested in adding him to their roster.
Most of the Arsenal supporters seem to be extremely pleased with the news as they have been pressurizing the club to sell him. They think he is not good enough for the club and his recent performances have solidified this claim.
Xhaka’s performances have been below par for a good part of the season instigating this heavy criticism from supporters. However, to the pleasure of many Arsenal supporters, it is quite certain that he is on his way out and will sport an Inter Milan kit com next season.
Check out the howler from Xhaka below –