Thomas Muller scored a hat-trick as Germany thrashed 10-man Portugal 4-0 in the opening game of Group G at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Defender Mats Hummels was also on target as Joachim Low’s men ran riot at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, while their opponents had Pepe sent off for violent conduct in the first half with the score at 2-0.
The two sides have met in the last two European competitions as well as the 2006 third-place play-off. Germany came out on top on each occasion and they were certainly in better form going into their World Cup opener, coming through their qualifying group unbeaten and dropping just two points.
Meanwhile, Portugal scraped through their pool as runners-up before Cristiano Ronaldo’s inspired four-goal performance against Sweden in the play-offs.
Question marks were being asked as to whether the world’s best player would be fit again, but he put on a good quick burst as he created the first chance after five minutes. However Hugo Almeida, who went off injured on 28 minutes, could only muster a very tame effort on goal. That was about as good as it got for Paulo Bento’s side.
Muller was the top scorer at the finals four years ago with five goals, and it took him just 11 minutes to open his account for 2014. Mario Gotze burst into the penalty area before being brought down by Joao Pereira, and the Bayern Munich man stepped up – sending his kick into the bottom corner to give his side the lead.
They doubled their lead on 32 minutes with Toni Kroos’ out-swinging corner being powered home by the head of Hummels.
Portugal’s task became even harder five minutes later. Muller was again involved as he went down rather needlessly after being caught by Pepe’s trailing arm. But the Real Madrid defender did himself no favours when he angrily reacted and pushed his head into the striker’s face, leaving the referee with no option but to produce the red card.
The Bayern Munich forward grabbed his second goal just before the break, smashing the ball home after Bruno Alves’ clearance from Kroos’ cross ricocheted kindly into his path.
By now Joachim Loew’s men were cruising and in total control, while Ronaldo and his team mates could get nowhere near the German goal for mainly being crammed in the own half.
Chelsea striker Andre Schurrle came off the bench and played a part in the fourth goal. His cross was parried by keeper Rui Patricio, and Muller pounced on the rebound to put the icing on the German cake and complete his hat-trick.
It really was a ruthless performance from the Germans, who have now scored four or more times in their opening match for the fourth consecutive finals. Back to the drawing board for Ronaldo and co.
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