Ronaldo’s hat-trick put Portugal in Nations League final

Author: BBC Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo (left) scored his 86th international goal with a first-half free-kick before going on to add to his tally in the second-half

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 86th international goal with a first-half free-kick  against Switzerland before adding two more goals in the second-half at the Estadio do Dragao in Portugal

Portugal manager Fernando Santos described Cristiano Ronaldo as "a genius" after his superb hat-trick ensured Portugal reached the Nations League final with victory over Switzerland on Sunday.

Ronaldo, 34, had given the hosts the lead with a stunning first-half free-kick that flew into the bottom-right corner, wrong-footing Swiss keeper Yann Sommer.

Switzerland levelled in the second period when Ricardo Rodriguez tucked away a video assistant referee-awarded penalty - after Felix Brych had initially signaled for a penalty at the other end.

But after consulting his pitch-side monitor, referee Brych instead gave a spot-kick for Nelson Semedo's foul on Switzerland's Steven Zuber.

Incensed by the decision, the hosts struggled to build any rhythm as the game appeared to drift towards extra-time.

However, Ronaldo made the crucial difference late on, sweeping Bernardo Silva's cross into the corner of the net, before firing into the same spot 102 seconds later.

"In terms of adjectives to describe Ronaldo's game - I have used many," said Santos, Ronaldo's former manager at Sporting Lisbon.

"I was his coach in 2003 and I could see where he would go. There are genius paintings and sculptures and he is a football genius.

"When someone scores three goals, they are the difference maker."

Portugal play the winners of Thursday's semi-final between England and the Netherlands (19:45 BST), with the final in Porto on Sunday.