Thomas Muller’s treble powers three-time champ Germany to a thumping win
The Germany versus Portugal match was supposed to be a close battle for supremacy in Group G, but the Germans used their high-octane offence to steamroll their way to a 4-0 victory on Monday.
Thomas Muller scored the first hat-trick of Brazil 2014 as Germany blew out Portugal, which played for 53 minutes a man down.
Mats Hummels also scored for the three-time champion while Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was often shown shaking his head in disbelief at the beating his team was taking.
“Three goals in one match, in the opening match against such an opponent is just great,” said Muller after the rout. “In the last four years I've had some experience in world soccer and I'm not the kind of guy who gets afraid,” he added.
“We got into the match really well and had some half chances then suddenly we were ahead 2-0. In heat like this a lead like that is a great advantage.”
With coach Joachim Low using six centre midfielders in his line-up for Germany’s 100th World Cup match, the encounter at Arena Fonte Nova was a high-tempo affair from the very start. Neither team showed any nerves early on and went right at the opposing goal.
Ronaldo got the crowd excited in the eighth minute after the German defence lost a ball but ’keeper Manuel Neuer made a superb save. A minute later, Germany’s midfielder Sami Khedira fired just wide of an empty goal after a mistake by the Portugal ’keeper.
Paying the penalty
The crowd got an early goal with Germany grabbing the lead from the spot in the 12th minute. Muller converted into the lower left corner after Joao Pereira had dragged down Mario Goetze in the box.
Portugal was not fazed by the setback, but the Iberians’ attack took a hit in the 28th minute when Portugal coach Paulo Bento was forced to swap an injured Hugo Almeida for Eder.
Germany doubled its lead on a set-piece after 32 minutes with Hummels hammering home a header off a corner by Toni Kroos. Eder’s header went just over the bar in the 36th minute but Portugal then found itself a man down just a minute later.
Pepe sees red
Pepe was shown a red card for butting Muller, who was sitting on the ground after being hit in the face seconds earlier by the Portuguese defender during a challenge.
In the first-half injury time, Muller blocked Bruno Alves’s clearance attempt and blasted home his second goal. Being a man up, Germany took the foot off the gas in the second half while Portugal didn’t have the power to create many dangerous chances. Portugal thought it deserved a penalty in the 75th minute as German defender Benedikt Hoewedes was clumsy in his challenge against Eder in the area. But referee Milorad Mazic did not point to the spot.
Muller completed his hat-trick in the 78th minute, pouncing on a rebound of a blocked shot by Andre Schuerrle.
With the decision long decided, the sides saw important defenders get subbed out with injuries as Portugal's Fabio Coentrao was stretchered off the pitch in the 65th minute and Hummels was helped off with 17 minutes to play.
The demolition will send a strong message to Germany’s rival title contenders in Brazil and left Portugal looking nervously at qualification with games against the U.S. and Ghana to come.