Porto: Portugal manager Fernando Santos hailed Cristiano Ronaldo a football genius after his 53rd career hat-trick sent Portugal into the final of the Nations League on home soil in Porto with a 3-1 win over Switzerland. The hosts had to withstand a huge moment of VAR controversy as after Ronaldo's free-kick opened the scoring, Portugal thought they had the chance to double their lead from the penalty spot. Instead German referee Felix Brych reversed his initial decision and awarded a spot-kick at the other end for an earlier incident, which Ricardo Rodriguez converted to seemingly send the game to extra-time.
However, Ronaldo predictably took centre stage as he struck twice in the final two minutes to set up a clash with England or the Netherlands, who meet in the second semi-final on Thursday, in Sunday's final. "I was his coach in 2003 and I could see where he'd go," said Santos. "He's a genius. There's genius paintings and sculptures and he's a football genius!"
Portugal made it to the last four without their all-time record goalscorer as Ronaldo took a hiatus from international football to concentrate on his first season at Juventus.
However, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner returned to the national team in March and was always likely to be the centre of attention, particularly on a day when it was reported a rape lawsuit against him had been dropped. A lawyer for the American woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Ronaldo, accusations he has strongly denied, later dismissed that report, saying the case had not been dropped.
- Agence France Presse