Recap: Germany vs. Portugal
06/16/2014 1:05 PM
06/16/2014 3:12 PM
Salvador, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Thomas Muller netted a hat trick on Monday as Germany opened Group G play with a comfortable 4-0 rout of 10-man Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nova.
The Germans got off the mark after just 11 minutes as Muller converted a penalty kick, and the advantage was doubled in the 32nd minute through a goal from defender Mats Hummels.
Things got worse for Portugal as defender Pepe was shown a straight red card following an altercation with Muller, and the Bayern Munich man took full advantage in first-half stoppage time when he buried his second goal of the day.
Muller finished his treble in the 78th minute when he fired one home from close range to become the fifth German player to score a hat trick in the World Cup.
"Winning was our only option and the team went out there with that in mind," Germany head coach Joachim Low said. "Thomas did really well in attack and created a lot of space for us. We dominated the midfield and got the ball up to the forwards, where we were very fast."
Germany surges to the top of Group G, while Monday's other contest in the group sees the United States kick off its World Cup journey against Ghana in Natal.
Portugal came out with energy and created a few early scoring chances, but the tide of the match turned in Germany's favor 11 minutes in when Mario Gotze worked his way into the penalty area and was brought down by Portugal's Joao Pereira, resulting in a spot kick for Germany and a caution for Pereira.
Muller stepped up and blasted it into the bottom right corner past a diving Rui Patricio for the opening goal.
Portugal almost had an equalizer in the 25th minute when Nani did well to bring down a cross-field pass on the right flank and have a go at goal from distance, but the strike narrowly missed the top left corner of the net.
A few minutes later, Mesut Ozil ran in behind the Portugal defense on the right flank and squared the ball back to Gotze for a strike on goal, but it was deflected out of play for a corner kick.
On the ensuing set piece, Toni Kroos sent in a perfect ball and Hummels got between the Portugal defenders and powered his header past Patricio for the 2-0 lead in the 32nd minute.
Pepe was shown his marching orders in the 37th minute for a head butt on Muller, and the Germans made it 3-0 one minute into first-half stoppage time when a lofted ball into the box was blocked down by Portugal defender Bruno Alves, but it fell to the feet of Muller, who smashed it home from close range.
Portugal had another quality opportunity to get on the score sheet in the 59th minute as Cristiano Ronaldo lined up a free kick from 30 yards out, but his strike went directly into the wall. Later, Nani lined up a shot from distance with 15 minutes to play, but German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer calmly parried it away.
Muller completed his hat trick with 12 minutes to go when substitute Andre Schurrle sent a low cross into the penalty area that was stopped by Patricio, but he failed to control the rebound and Muller made no mistake to finish off the rout.
"We started the game well and everything went brilliantly for us. We had chances at the start and the second goal came from a dead-ball situation and gave us a pretty big cushion," Muller said. "We made the most of our chances and though the second goal didn't exactly kill the game, we knew it would be difficult for them to come back, even more so with just ten men."
Germany has scored at least four goals in each of its last four World Cup openers, while Portugal suffered its worst-ever World Cup defeat.
The Germans continue their group campaign on June 21 against Ghana, while Portugal will play the United States on June 22 without the services of Pepe and potentially defender Fabio Coentrao, who needed to be subbed off because of an apparent groin injury.
"The first half was the problem for us," Portugal head coach Paulo Bento said. "In the second half we just tried to cope with being a man down the best we could. It's very strange to have someone sent off in a game like this. That's pretty much what the match hinged on."
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