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Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the UEFA Nations League semifinal soccer match between Portugal and Switzerland at the Dragao stadium in Porto, Portugal, Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the UEFA Nations League semifinal soccer match between Portugal and Switzerland at the Dragao stadium in Porto, Portugal, Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)|Associated Press
Soccer

Soccer: While his Nevada rape trial is moved in the U.S., Ronaldo’s hat trick sends Portugal into Nations League final

Associated Press

By TALES AZZONI AP Sports Writer

PORTO, Portugal (AP) — On a night when Portugal unveiled its newest star, it was the same old Cristiano Ronaldo who came through for the national team again.

Teenager Joao Felix, who has been called Ronaldo's successor, made his international debut on Wednesday, but it was Ronaldo who scored the hat trick that gave Portugal a 3-1 win over Switzerland and a spot in the final of the inaugural Nations League.

While the 19-year-old Felix wasn't much of a factor, Ronaldo proved decisive again, converting a first-half free kick and netting two late goals that gave the hosts a chance of winning UEFA's newest competition.

"It's one of those things you don't have enough adjectives to describe," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "He's a genius."

Portugal and Ronaldo will play either the Netherlands or England, which meet in the other semifinal on Thursday in Guimaraes. Switzerland will face that game's loser in the third-place game, also on Sunday.

Ronaldo's late double also helped erase the controversy surrounding Switzerland's second-half equalizer by Ricardo Rodriguez. It came from a highly disputed penalty kick that was awarded after a video review, and which nullified a penalty that had been given to Portugal as play continued.

Portugal will be seeking its second international title after winning the 2016 European Championship with a team led by Ronaldo.

The star forward put Portugal ahead at the Estadio do Dragao with a well-taken free kick in the 25th minute. His shot dropped quickly after going over the wall, catching Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer flat-footed.

When the game seemed headed to extra time, Ronaldo came through to put the hosts ahead again. He scored with a shot from inside the area after a nice pass by Bernardo Silva in the 88th, then completed his sixth international hat trick in the 90th, entering the area with the ball and cutting back inside before firing a shot into the far corner. It was his 88th goal for Portugal in 157 internationals.

"They have this 'cherry on top,'" Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said about Ronaldo. "And he really made the difference."

Ronaldo had taken time off from the national team after last year's World Cup and hadn't yet played in the Nations League. It was only his third match with Portugal this year after returning to the squad for European Championship qualifiers.

Felix wasn't on the field anymore when Ronaldo came through with the late-game heroics. He had been substituted in the 70th.

The Benfica forward, who has been attracting the attention of some top clubs in Europe, had a golden chance to score his first goal with Portugal just before halftime, but he couldn't get a clean shot off after receiving a pass inside the area with only the goalkeeper to beat.

German referee Felix Brych didn't initially award the penalty for Switzerland after Steven Zuber was touched by Nelson Semedo inside the area, and as play continued he instead called one for Portugal when Silva was fouled in the other box.

After a long delay, Brych went to the VAR cabin and reversed the non-call for the first penalty, allowing Rodriguez to convert the spot kick in the 57th to even the score.

"I've never seen anything like that," Petkovic said. "It was a bit strange because the penalty wasn't that clear. The way it was handled wasn't entirely clear."

Portugal loudly complained as the contact between Semedo and Zuber appeared to be incidental.

Brych was also involved in a controversial penalty call in the match between Switzerland and Serbia at the World Cup last year.

It was the first time the VAR was used in a UEFA competition between national teams.

Before the game, a moment of silence was observed in honor of former UEFA president Lennart Johansson, who died Wednesday at age 89.

Ronaldo rape lawsuit in Vegas moved from Nevada to US court

By KEN RITTER Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A lawsuit by a Nevada woman accusing soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo of raping her in 2009 at a Las Vegas Strip resort has been moved from state to federal court in Las Vegas, her lawyer said Wednesday.

"We basically just switched venues, but the claims remain," said attorney Larissa Drohobyczer, who represents former model and schoolteacher Kathryn Mayorga and sought the change in venue for the civil filings seeking money.

Ronaldo's attorney Peter Christiansen declined to comment about the change or an ongoing police investigation.

The lawsuit says Mayorga met Ronaldo at a nightclub and went with him and other people to his suite. It says the attack occurred in a bedroom.

Mayorga also accuses Ronaldo or those working for him of conspiracy, coercion and fraud, defamation and breach of contract for allowing details of a confidential financial settlement to become public.

Christiansen has previously acknowledged that Ronaldo met Mayorga in 2009, but denied the rape allegation. The attorney maintained it was consensual sex.

Las Vegas police have refused to release their report because the investigation is open.

Ronaldo plays in Italy for the Turin-based soccer club Juventus.

The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are victims of sex crimes. Mayorga gave consent through her lawyers to make her name public.

Word of the change of venue came after the lawsuit filed in September in Nevada state court was voluntarily dismissed on May 8 by Mayorga's attorneys.

Drohobyczer said Mayorga filed identical claims in January in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas to take advantage of federal court rules on serving foreigners with court filings.

Court records filed in the federal case show that Mayorga's attorneys were having trouble serving Ronaldo with the documents in Europe.

Drohobyczer said Wednesday she was still awaiting confirmation that Ronaldo received the lawsuit, so the civil case can proceed.

Mayorga underwent a medical exam to collect DNA evidence shortly after the alleged attack in June 2009. In January, Las Vegas police requested a sample of Ronaldo's DNA through Italian authorities.

Officer Laura Meltzer, a department spokeswoman, said Wednesday she had no information about whether investigators received the sample. The case remains open, she said.

The department said the initial police investigation was closed in 2009 because Mayorga only identified her attacker as a European soccer player, not by name, and did not say where the incident took place.

The investigation was reopened in August at the request of Mayorga's attorneys, shortly before the state lawsuit was filed.

Leslie Mark Stovall, another lawyer for Mayorga, has acknowledged she received $375,000 to keep quiet about the encounter. But the attorney maintains the agreement was made under pressure from "fixers" trying to protect Ronaldo's reputation.

The legal filings seek to void the hush-money agreement and award Mayorga and her lawyers monetary damages of at least $200,000.