Cristiano Ronaldo Hat-Trick Leads Portugal by Switzerland in UEFA Nations League

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2019

PORTO, PORTUGAL - JUNE 05: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal controls the ball during the UEFA Nations League Semi-Final match between Portugal and Switzerland at Estadio do Dragao on June 5, 2019 in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to help Portugal reach the final of the 2019 UEFA Nations League after a 3-1 win over Switzerland at the Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday.

Ronaldo opened the scoring from a free-kick, before adding two more goals late on to render a Ricardo Rodriguez penalty moot and see the hosts through.

Portugal now await the winner of Thursday's semi-final between the Netherlands and England.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

RONALDO HAT-TRICK (via @UnivisionSports) https://t.co/71lxNcIf5r


Joao Felix Not Ready for Big-Money PL Move

A first senior international cap provided an onlookers the ideal opportunity to find out why Manchester City are reportedly prepared to pay £106 million for Benfica forward Joao Felix.

UEFA Nations League @UEFAEURO

🇵🇹 João Félix is the youngest Portugal debutant since Renato Sanches in 2016 (19 years, 207 days) 🧒 #NationsLeague https://t.co/yG9mEZk7PE

The gaudy amount is the 19-year-old's release clause, a fee City are ready meet after seeing an offer worth £90 million rebuffed, according to CM Jornal (h/t TalkSport's Josh Fordham).

City fans can be forgiven for wondering why based on Felix's indifferent display. Joining City playmaker Bernardo Silva to partner Ronaldo in attack gave the teenager every chance to showcase his skills.

What followed instead was a performance defined more by hesitation than inspiration. Felix made some intelligent runs off the ball, but too often his first touch let him down, while he rarely found his range when trying to tee up teammates.

It meant a first half of anonymity for European football's latest anointed wonderkid:

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

Only 11 touches at half-time against Switzerland, but there have been a few examples of his innate movement and excellent spatial awareness. Félix is the type to be generally ineffectual, then appear to make a difference at a decisive moment.

So there was no surprise when head coach Fernando Santos hooked Felix just before the 70th minute.

Felix looked slightly awed by the occasion and his exalted company. The feeling is perhaps understandable given it's his first time at this level, along with the pressure of trying to match the exalted standards Ronaldo has set.

Even so, it's not unreasonable to expect more from a player expected to command a nine-figure transfer fee this summer. Kylian Mbappe did the same thing as a teenage prodigy for Monaco and France, and the striker was further along when he joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 and helped Les Bleus win the FIFA World Cup a year later.

Felix has produced commendable numbers in Benfica's talented ranks this season:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Joao Felix: Last 8 Benfica apps 🆚 Eintracht Frankfurt ⚽️⚽️⚽️🅰️⭐️ 🆚 Vitoria de Setubal ⚽️🅰️🅰️ 🆚 Eintracht Frankfurt ❌ 🆚 Maritimo ⚽️⚽️🅰️ 🆚 Braga ❌ 🆚 Portimonense ❌ 🆚 Rio Ave ⚽️ 🆚 Santa Clara ⚽️ For more player stats -- https://t.co/Bu8FRGZrBu https://t.co/hprJhuwtC6

However, if he moves to City, he will be competing with established stars such as Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane for minutes out wide. Forcing his way ahead in the pecking order will take more skill and swagger than Felix showed here.

He may be ready for the Premier League someday, but Felix is not there yet.


What's Next?

Switzerland will face either the Netherlands or England in Sunday's third-place playoff, before Portugal contest the final later the same day.