Nations League - Portugal 3-1 Switzerland: Ronaldo hat-trick outshines VAR controversy
Photo: Getty Images

Nations League - Portugal 3-1 Switzerland: Ronaldo hat-trick outshines VAR controversy

VAR will once again be discussed after an unprecedented incident but Ronaldo was the man to rewrite the headlines once again.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

Cristiano Ronaldo was the Portugal hero as his emphatic hat-trick propelled his country into the inaugural Nations League Final at the expense of Switzerland.

Yet, for much of the contest, it was VAR that stole the headlines with a remarkable incident at the beginning of the second-half. After Bernardo Silva was sent tumbling by sprawling defenders in the Swiss penalty area, Portugal thought they had an opportunity to make the score 2-0 from the spot.

However, following discussions with the VAR team, referee Felix Brych consulted the pitchside monitor to review an incident seconds previous when Steven Zuber had gone down under the faintest of touches from Nelson Semedo

Brych opted to award the penalty for that incident, thus making Bernardo's appeal null and void. It gave Ricardo Rodriguez the opportunity to equalise in a completely new wave of controversy for VAR.

A tournament with meaning

In an entertaining contest, showcasing the Nations League at its finest, both teams boasted attacking threats, looking particularly dangerous on the counter-attack.

Switzerland looked a handful with crosses to Hans Seferovic but he also showed his ability on the floor, clipping the crossbar towards the end of the first-half after a neat move from the underdogs.

Xherdan Shaqiri pulled the strings for the Swiss, the Liverpool midfielder himself thwarted in the early stages by Rui Patricio. In contrast, the power of William Carvalho pulled Portugal forward at a rate of knots, only for the final ball to be lacking more often than not.

Yet the moment of magic in the opening 45 minutes came from that right boot of Ronaldo. After not featuring at all in the competition, Ronaldo made an instant impact on the Nations League, firing a trademark dipping and curling free-kick past the wrong-footed Yann Sommer. Ronaldo's first set-piece goal for anyone since the World Cup.

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Unprecedented controversy

Then came that controversial moment. With Portugal appearing certain to double their advantage and hang one foot in the final, VAR intervened.

Bernardo's appeal was a certain penalty but with the Swiss incident taking place beforehand it stole the priority. Whether the decision was correct is debatable, any contact was minimal, but it added extra fuel to an already ignited contest.

Both teams showed intent but struggled to break down the opposing defensive walls. Seferovic continued to look a threat on the end of pinpoint Shaqiri passes but just could not take advantage of the telling deliveries.

It was sparring at its finest but without that knockout blow. A star was needed to shine bright...

Ronaldo again

With everyone beginning to prepare for another 30 minutes, one man was still ready to set off the fireworks. And he did just that with a killer double in as many minutes.

As the clock ticked over to 88, Bernardo chased down a long pass before cutting it back to Ronaldo who emphatically smashed the ball past Sommer.

And with the Swiss chasing another equaliser, Portugal spiralled forward before the Juventus star cut inside and hit another beautifully executed strike into the bottom corner. Game over.

Can either Netherlands or England stop the Portuguese powerhouse in the final?

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