Thomas Muller's hat-trick and Mats Hummels' header helped the highly-favored Germany to smash 10-man Portugal 4-0 in the Group G opener at 2014 Brazil World Cup here on Monday.
Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo started for Portugal in the attacking line and the 29-year-old icon received a very warm welcome from the Arena Fonte Nova crown. However, it was the 24-year-old Thomas Muller who turned out to be the star of the match as he completed the first hat-trick in the tournament.
"We took our chances. Portugal is a very strong team and they also have some scoring opportunities," said Muller in the post match conference.
"Now we will focus on the next match against Ghana. I do not know whether I can score another hat trick in the next match but I will try my best."
The first goal of the match came in the 11th minute after Germany's Mario Gotze was pulled down in the box by Portuguese defender Joao Pereira. Gotze's Bayern teammate Muller, winner of 2010 Golden Boot award, converted the penalty.
Mats Hummels doubled the lead for Germany 31 minutes into the match when the Dortmund center back hammered in Toni Kroos' corner from the right.
The ill-tempered Pepe brought more trouble for Portugal. He pushed the face of Muller with hand when both players were chasing the ball. Muller fell down and Pepe believed the German was trying to pretending. He walked directly towards Muller, leaned down and headbutted Muller who was sitting on the ground.
The reckless foul unsurprisingly led to a red card, turning the much-hyped clash between two European giants into a lopsided match.
"It was very strange," Muller recalled. "He hit me with his hand and I fell down. I think he just walked back to me and butted me with his head," Muller recalled.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Muller scored again to give Germany a comfortable 3-0 cushion as he met a cross from Kroos and beat Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio again with a left-foot effort.
"The game was over after the first half," said Paulo Bento, Coach of Portugal. "Until 1-0 it was a balanced game."
"In the second half there is little to add. We tried to manage in the best way with the outnumbered and heavy disadvantage. The first five minutes of the second half we were not good. We were then able to balance," he added.
After the match resumed Germany still had several chances for goal but the Portugese changing their formations to 4-3-2 tried their best to keep their opponents from more goals.
In the 78th minute, Muller, who was elected as man of the match, completed his hat-trick when Patricio failed to hold a low cross from Andre Schurrle, leaving an unguarded Muller to touch home from close range.
Germany's veteran forward Miroslav Klose, who was just one goal off Brazilian legend Ronaldo's all-time mark of 15 goals, was left on bench for the match.
Portugal was forced to make two substitutions each in the two halves as their center forward Hugo Almeida sustained an injury in his thigh and limped off the pitch in the middle of the first half and fullback Fabio Coentreo was carried out in stretchers with what seemed to be a groin injury in the second half.
It was Germany's 100th match in World Cup finals and they become the first team to reach the landmark.
Germany will next face Ghana in Fortaleza on Sunday and another victory will secure a last-16 berth for them. Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal will take on the United States in the second round. (Xinhua)