By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Thomas Muller scored the first hat-trick of this year’s World Cup as Germany thrashed Portugal 4-0 at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador this afternoon (June 16th). An early penalty and two close-range strikes, one in each half, helped do the damage as Portugal defender Pepe was given a red card for a headbutt on Muller.
Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels scored the other goal as Germany made the perfect start to Brazil 2014. For Portugal, it was an afternoon to forget as coach Paulo Bento also lost striker Hugo Almeida and left-back Fabio Coentrão to injury.
Germany went into the lead from the spot kick after Joao Pereira pulled German forward Mario Gotze to the ground inside the penalty area. Just after the half hour Hummels doubled the lead with a powerful header from a corner.
Nani and Ronaldo tried to pull Portugal back into the contest, but following the dismissal of Pepe it was a nigh-on impossible task. Current World Player of the Year Ronaldo drifted in and out of the game as Germany’s midfield controlled tempo and possession.
Just before half-time, the match was as good as finished as Germany made it 3-0. Bruno Alves tried to clear danger but only succeeded in hitting the ball against Muller, who controlled sharply and drove a shot beneath Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
In the second half the game resembled a training exercise for the Germans. Gotze put Mesut Ozil clean through only for the Arsenal playmaker to waste the chance. Twelve minutes from time, Muller completed his hat-trick and Portugal’s humiliation, steering home from a few yards out. Portugal’s best chance came from a free-kick from Ronaldo, buy by then the result was already decided.
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