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Cristiano Ronaldo breaks silence after being dropped as Portugal thrash Switzerland

Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of Portugal's starting XI for the first time since 2008 as they defeated Switzerland 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinals against Morocco.

Cristiano Ronaldo has complimented his Portugal teammates on their remarkable performance in thrashing Switzerland and reaching the World Cup quarterfinals.

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After starting all three group games, Portugal manager Fernando Santos created headlines by benching Ronaldo for the last 16 matches in Qatar. The choice paid off handsomely as his replacement, Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 thrashing of the Swiss to set up a quarter-final meeting with Morocco, who overcame Spain on penalties earlier on Tuesday.

Ramos, a 21-year-old Benfica striker, was making his fourth appearance for the national team but was excellent. He scored from a tight angle to make it 1-0, then slid in Diogo Dalot’s cross for his second and dinked over Yan Sommer to complete an impressive hat-trick.

Ronaldo came off the substitute for Joao Felix in the 73rd minute with the score at 5-1, but had no impact, with Rafael Leao completing the carnage after Pepe and Raphael Guerreiro also scored for Portugal and Manuel Akanji earned a consolation for Switzerland. Despite this, the veteran striker was overjoyed for his colleagues.

He said on Instagram, beside a photo of himself celebrating Leao’s goal, “Incredible day for Portugal, with a historic result in the best competition in world football.” Luxury display of a young and talented team. Congratulations on our Selection. The dream has come true! Until the very end! Portugal, take heart!”

Portugal delivered an outstanding performance against Switzerland, with Ramos unquestionably the hero of the show. This season, the youthful striker has 14 goals in 21 appearances for Benfica, and he has continued that momentum into the World Cup.

Because of Ramos’ inclusion, Ronaldo did not start a match for Portugal in a major tournament for the first time in 31 appearances, a streak that dated back to 2008. Santos had been irritated by Ronaldo’s angry gestures after being substituted in the last group game, a loss to South Korea.

Ronaldo is now without a club after Manchester United canceled his contract last month. He is apparently on the verge of agreeing to join the Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr, which is offering to pay him a staggering £173 million per year.

The media’s focus on Ronaldo and his next club has irked Santos, who has been forced to address questions regarding his star striker’s future in the run-up to the game. “I don’t know, I haven’t talked to him about it,” Portugal’s manager replied when questioned on Monday.

“I spoke with the players, but it has nothing to do with this situation. He had no idea, he only found out a short time ago. It’s his choice, his inquiry. He is entirely focused on the World Cup and assisting the team.”

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