Portugal head coach Fernando Santos labelled Cristiano Ronaldo a “football genius” after the star’s hat-trick against Switzerland on Wednesday.
Ronaldo’s hat-trick led the Nations League Finals hosts into the decider courtesy of a 3-1 win in Porto midweek.
It took the 34-year-old’s tally to 88 international goals and marked his 53rd career hat-trick, with two of his strikes coming in the final two minutes.
Santos was predictably full of praise for Ronaldo, who sent Portugal into a final against either England or Netherlands.
“In terms of adjectives to describe Ronaldo’s game – I’ve used many. I was his coach in 2003 and I could see where he’d go,” he said, via UEFA.
“He’s a genius. There’s genius paintings and sculptures and he’s a football genius.”
— UEFA Nations League (@UEFAEURO) June 5, 2019
Ronaldo’s first-half free-kick had been cancelled out by a Ricardo Rodriguez penalty, but he struck twice more late on.
Santos acknowledged the Juventus star made the difference, but praised Switzerland for their performance.
“When someone scores three goals, they are the difference maker. It was tough game, it was well played – two sides who are very strong, playing to win,” he said.
“They’re strategically well organised, changing their formation. Their players know what they have to do on the pitch, limiting some of the gaps we’d thought about.”
England and Netherlands meet for a place in the final on Thursday, with the loser to face Switzerland for third place.
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