Ronaldo’s hat-trick led the Nations League Finals hosts into the decider courtesy of a 3-1 win inPorto.
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.
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“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.”
Ronaldo’s first-half free-kick had been cancelled out by a Ricardo Rodriguez penalty, but he struck twice more late on.
Santos acknowledged theJuventusstar made the difference, but praised Switzerland for their performance.
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“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.