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2018-19 UEFA Nations League, Semifinals
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (25', 88', 90')
  • Ricardo Rodríguez (57' PEN)

Ronaldo hat trick sends Portugal to Nations League final

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick to lead Portugal to a 3-1 win against Switzerland on Wednesday to earn a spot in the UEFA Nations League final.

Ronaldo opened the scoring for Portugal against the run of play in the 25th minute with well-hit free kick that wrong-footed Jan Sommer after the Juventus striker was fouled just outside the area.

It was Ronaldo's first goal for Portugal since scoring against Morocco last June at the World Cup in Russia, and following the match manager Fernando Santos was effusive in his praise of his captain.

"There's no adjective to describe him," said Portugal coach Fernando Santos. "He's a genius. You can be a genius in art, and in sculpture and he is a football genius.

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"It was an intense match, very hard-fought, against a very well-organised Swiss team."

Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic was left to rue a missed opportunity.

"We had the chance to get a second but didn't take it. We got outnumbered at the back and conceded. Their top player made the difference," he said.

The equaliser came early in the second half after the referee consulted VAR and awarded a penalty to Switzerland for Nelson Semedo's foul on Steven Zuber, and Ricardo Rodriguez stepped up and dispatched the spot kick to make it 1-1.

But rapid-fire strikes late in the second half from Ronaldo -- a first-time finish from a Bernardo Silva assist and a stellar individual effort soon after -- sealed the result for Portugal on home soil.

Portugal will face the winner of Thursday's other semifinal between Netherlands and England (live on ESPN2 at 2:45 p.m. ET) in the inaugural Nations League final on Sunday.