Today at the World Cup: Portugal hail new hero as Ronaldo’s future unclear

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup role appears to have been re-evaluated (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup role appears to have been re-evaluated (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Portugal have a new hero to worship after 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos’ hat-trick put them into the quarter-finals as Cristiano Ronaldo was relegated to the role of late substitute for the 6-1 win over Switzerland.

Portugal now meet Morocco, who stunned Spain in a penalty shoot-out as the quarter-final line-up was completed.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how Tuesday unfolded as the last eight were confirmed.

Writing on the wall for Ronaldo

Ronaldo looks like being relegated to the role of super sub for the remainder of Portugal’s World Cup after coach Fernando Santos admitted his new role within the team is yet to be defined.

The 37-year-old had to watch from the bench as Benfica forward Ramos, 16 years his junior, scored a hat-trick against the Swiss.

Asked about his captain’s future, Santos said: “That is still something that has to be defined. I will always consider in my role that he is an important player to have in the team.”

Asked if Ronaldo would play against Morocco the Portugal boss added: “Ronaldo will definitely (be involved), all the players on the bench can be used, if they are not in the starting line-up they can play later.

“All we have to do is think about this team collectively.”

Pickford focused on clean sheets

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will win his 50th cap in Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final clash against France.

The Everton goalkeeper has kept three clean sheets in four games and puts his record down to a good understanding with Harry Maguire, who has started 38 of Pickford’s 49 games, Kyle Walker (34) and John Stones (32).

“That (a clear understanding) is a big part of it. We’ve had the disappointments of the semi-final and the final at the Euros, but we’ve had those experiences together now,” he said.

“Me, Harry, Stonesy, Walker, Tripps (Kieran Trippier) – this is our third major tournament together as a backline so it can only put you in good stead.”

Mbappe misses training

Kylian Mbappe sat out training for France on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old, leading the race for the Golden Boot with five goals, was instead working in the recovery room as Les Bleus build up to Saturday’s clash.

Team-mate Olivier Giroud, France’s new all-time leading goalscorer with 52, believes the youngster will set landmarks of his own.

“We’ve not seen the best of him, I hope it’s going to come soon and he will beat all the records,” he said.

Van Dijk honoured to face Messi

Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk is honoured to be facing Argentina’s Lionel Messi but insists Friday’s quarter-final will not be defined by their individual battle.

Messi, 35, has scored three goals in Qatar and looks like he is starting to hit some form.

“It is an honour to play against him,” Van Dijk told reporters.

“It is not me against him, or the Netherlands against him, but the Netherlands against Argentina. No one can do it on his own.”

Morocco’s players prove themselves

Morocco’s World Cup upset victory over Spain proved players born outside the country can lift them to the next level, according to coach Walid Regragui.

Spain-born Achraf Hakimi – one of 14 foreign-born players in the squad – produced an audacious Panenka to book the country’s first ever quarter-final as they won the shoot-out 3-0.

“We have shown that every Moroccan is Moroccan,” said Regragui, himself born in France, who also became the first African coach to lead a team to the last eight.

“What is good is that players are born in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium – every country has a football culture and we have created a mixture and I’m very happy with that.”

Eto’o apologises

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Former Cameroon and Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o has apologised for what he described as a “violent altercation” on Monday night.

A video circulating on social media appears to show the 41-year-old kneeing a man in the head outside Stadium 974 in Doha.

“After the Brazil-South Korea match, I had a violent altercation with a person who was probably an Algerian supporter,” Eto’o, president of his country’s football federation, wrote on his social media channels.

“I would like to apologise for losing my temper and reacting in a way that does not match my personality.”

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Who’s up next?

Quarter-finals

Friday December 9Croatia v Brazil (1500GMT, BBC1)Netherlands v Argentina (1900GMT, BBC1)