Portugal can go on to win the World Cup without Cristiano Ronaldo, reckons Ian Wright, after they thrashed Switzerland 6-1 with their skipper dropped to the bench.
Ronaldo’s demotion made all the pre-match headlines before the last-16 clash, but – astoundingly – it was his relatively unknown replacement, 21-year-old Goncalo Ramos who took full advantage, scoring a stunning hat-trick as he led his side into the quarter-finals.
With the likes of Joao Felix – still only 23 – also impressing in the win, it led Wright to speculate on the future prospects of Portugal without Ronaldo.
“That’s a team that can easily go all the way,” ex-England striker Wright began on ITV Sport.
“And he [Ronaldo] could still really contribute to this team without maybe having to do so much, because this team can do it without him.
“They’ve proved that before in the Euros [winning in 2016] and they’ve done it today. They were dynamic without him.
“If he just gets it all right in his head, he could still end up scoring the winning goal for them in the final.”
Before the game and after the teams had been announced, Gary Neville had criticised Ronaldo for the petulance that seemingly cost him his place in the XI, and that recently saw him leave Manchester United under a cloud.
But alongside Wright, Neville sought to correct claims of sulking from Ronaldo during the game, which some people had claimed via images circulating on social media.
“He celebrated like crazy for the first two goals,” Neville said.
“He wasn’t sulking, he went and celebrated with Pepe, with Ramos on both goals.
“It looked like he was miserable on social media – that’s not the case.”