Müller grabs hat-trick as Germany crush Portugal

2014-06-16 20:30

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Germany got their World Cup campaign off to the best possible start as they cruised to a 4-0 victory over 10-man Portugal.

Thomas Müller was the man of the hour for the Nationalelf, bagging a hat-trick of goals, while teammate Mats Hummels also got in on the act.

Portugal, meanwhile, were reduced to ten men towards the end of the first half, with Real Madrid's Pepe seeing red after appearing to headbutt Müller.

There was penalty of drama early on as Besiktas forward Hugo Almeida tested Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with an angled drive on five minutes, after being played through on goal by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo had a great chance to give his side the lead just three minutes later but his low shot was blocked at the near post by Neuer.

At the opposite end of the pitch, Germany were left cursing their luck as midfielder Sami Khedira failed to score into an unguarded net after a botched clearance by Portugal 'keeper Rui Patricio.

However, Germany got the breakthrough they were looking for on 10 minutes as Joao Pereira brought down Mario Götze in the penalty area, with the referee subsequently pointing to the spot.

Müller stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick and made no mistake, slotting the ball into the bottom-right corner to give his side the lead.

Portugal went close to levelling the scores on 26 minutes but Manchester United winger Nani was unable to find the mark, his fierce shot going just inches over the bar.

And they were made to rue that missed chance as Germany doubled their lead from a corner on 31 minutes. Götze sent an inswinging corner in to the box and Hummels rose above Pepe to head home a powerful effort.

Any hopes of a Portugal comeback were extinguished in the 36th minute, though, with Pepe receiving his marching orders after appearing to headbutt Müller, who was sat on the ground appealing for a free-kick.

Germany notched their third goal on the stroke of halftime, Müller racing clear of the defence before slotting the ball past the advancing Patricio.

Despite being down to ten men and three goals behind, Portugal didn't let their heads drop in the second period as they looked to salvage some pride.

They almost pulled one back in the 49th minute but substitute Eder blasted over the crossbar when well placed to score.

Joachim Low's men were always in control, though, and went close to stretching further ahead in the 52nd minute, Müller's flying header going over the bar following a reaction save from Patricio.

Germany should have had a fourth in the 70th minute when Götze broke free in the area, but the Bayern Munich man hesitated for too long and saw the covering defender block his goalbound shot at the last second.

Portugal kept on pushing for a consolation goal but they were again denied in the 75th minute, with the referee waving away their appeals for a penalty after Benedikt Howedes appeared to clatter Eder in the box.

However, Germany rubbed further salt in the wounds of the Portuguese three minutes later as Müller clinched his first ever international hat-trick after slotting home from close range.

There was little else in the way of goalmouth action in the remaining minutes as Germany took their pedal off the gas content with their four-goal advantage.

For Portugal it's back to the drawing board following an abject performance, with their upcoming fixtures against Ghana and USA now must-win games.

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