Ronaldo Fires Portugal to Nations League Final

BY BBC

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a superb hat-trick as Portugal reached the Nations League final with a 3-1 victory over Switzerland at the Estadio do Dragao.

Ronaldo 34, had given the hosts the lead with a stunning first-half free-kick that flew into the bottom-right corner, wrong-footing Swiss keeper Yann Sommer.

Switzerland levelled in the second period when Ricardo Rodriguez tucked away a video assistant referee-awarded penalty moments after referee Felix Brych had initially signalled for a penalty at the other end.

But after consulting his pitch-side monitor, the decision was expunged and he instead gave a spot-kick for Nelson Semedo’s foul on Switzerland’s Steven Zuber.

Incensed by the decision, the hosts struggled to build any rhythm as the game appeared to drift towards extra-time.

However, Ronaldo made the crucial difference late on, sweeping Bernardo Silva’s cross into the bottom-right corner, before firing into the same spot 102 seconds later.

Portugal play the winners of Thursday’s semi-final between England and the Netherlands, with the final in Porto on Sunday.

Switzerland’s Portuguese woe continues – the stats

  • Portugal have won five of their past eight games against Switzerland (D1 L2), despite conceding in six of those matches.
  • This is the first encounter between Portugal and Switzerland to see both sides score since March 1993 (1-1 in a World Cup qualifier).
  • Switzerland are winless in their past nine games played in Portugal (including Euro 2004), losing seven and drawing twice since a 2-0 victory against Portugal in a World Cup qualifier in April 1969.
  • Portugal have lost just one of their past 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).
  • Two of Cristiano Ronaldo’s past 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 Rodriguez’s past six goals for Switzerland have come from the penalty spot, including his last three.
  • Only Strahil Popov for Bulgaria (four) and Benjamin Kololli for Kosovo (five) have been directly involved in more goals among defenders in this Nations League campaign than Switzerland’s Ricardo RodrĂ­guez (three – two goals, one assist).
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