Muller 'Hat-Trick' Leads Germany Over Portugal
Thomas Mueller scored a hat-trick as Germany thrashed Portugal 4-0 to leave Cristiano Ronaldo's dreams of dominating the World Cup in tatters on Monday.
Bayern Munich star Mueller bagged the first treble of his international career as Germany shrugged off a troubled build-up to the tournament to make a flying start in Group G. But it was a disastrous afternoon at Salvador's Fonte Nova Arena for Ronaldo and Portugal, who had defender Pepe sent off for a first half headbutt on Mueller.
Mueller opened the scoring from the penalty spot after 12 minutes before defender Mats Hummels doubled Germany's advantage on the half-hour mark. The 24-year-old center forward struck again at the end of the first half before tapping home a close range effort on 78 minutes.
A wretched outing for Portugal was compounded by the sight of Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao being stretchered off in the second half. But the biggest concern will be the form of Ronaldo, who had hoped to sparkle at the World Cup after helping Real Madrid to the Champions League this season. The 29-year-old winger, who was battling injuries before the tournament, had declared himself 100 percent fit on the eve of the match.
However the former Manchester United star looked way below his best, and a poorly scuffed free-kick summed up his afternoon of disappointment.
In Group G's other game on Monday, 2010 quarter-finalists Ghana face the United States in Natal having knocked out the Americans in the last 16 four years ago.
African champions Nigeria, who have taken just two points from six matches in their last two appearances at the World Cup, face three-time Asian champions Iran in Curitiba in Group F.