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Germans brush aside Portugal

Hat-trick hero Müller leads 4-0 rout

Thomas Müller blasted a hat-trick and ex-FCB youth Mats Hummels also scored as a Germany side featuring half-a-dozen Bayern stars made an explosive start to their 2014 World Cup campaign with a 4-0 rout of ten-man Portugal on Monday evening. The 51,000 crowd at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador saw a thrilling first half with Joachim Löw’s increasingly assured side opening up a match-winning lead, although Pepe’s dismissal before half-time effectively ended the game as a contest.

Löw fielded six of the seven-strong Bayern contingent in his starting line-up, with Manuel Neuer in goal, Jerome Boateng at right-back, captain Philipp Lahm in the holding role, Toni Kroos in the playmaking position, Mario Götze down the left, and Müller as the central striker. Bastian Schweinsteiger initially took a seat in the dugout.

After Serbian referee Milorad Mazic whistled play underway the teams made light of the 28 degree heat and punishing humidity with a whirlwind start. Götze and Hugo Almeida traded early chances, Cristiano Ronaldo drew a sharp save from Neuer, and Sami Khedira slid a long-range effort past the unguarded net after a mistake from Portugal keeper Rui Patricio.

Löw’s men had the lead on 12 minutes when Müller tucked away a penalty after Joao Pereira wrestled Götze to the ground as the FCB man wriggled towards the six-yard box. Germany had the game under control for a spell, but the Portuguese were always a threat on the break and Nani thumped a swerving shot inches wide of the goal frame.

Thomas on deadly form

Lahm and his team-mates kept probing away and doubled the lead on 32 minutes when Hummels powered home a header from a Kroos corner, the result of a desperate late block on a goalbound Götze effort. Portugal were reduced to ten men five minutes later when the volatile Pepe lashed out at Müller and then head-butted the striker, earning the Real Madrid defender a straight red card.

Space opened up now for Löw’s men and Götze was again crowded out close to goal, before Müller’s persistence and deadly finishing skills earned him a second and his team’s third in first-half stoppage time, the striker spinning onto a Kroos reverse pass and blasting a deflected shot past Patricio.

The Germans stayed on the front foot after the break, but Müller headed the rebound wide after Patricio saved a one-on-one with Mesut Özil. The pace and the players steadily wilted in the blistering heat, and Götze missed the chance to make it four on 69 minutes from sub Andre Schürrle’s unselfish pass by dwelling a shade too long on the ball.

Boateng moved to centre-back for the last 20 minutes after Hummels was forced off with a knee injury, before Müller completed his hat-trick from close range when Patricio spilled Schürrle’s 78th-minute cross-shot. The hat-trick hero gave way to former Bayern star Lukas Podolski for the last ten minutes, and Neuer showed all his class before the end with a solid save from a Ronaldo blaster as Löw’s side cruised to the victory.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley

Germany line-up: Neuer - Boateng, Mertesacker, Hummels (Mustafi 73), Höwedes – Lahm - Khedira, Kroos – Özil (Schürrle 63), Götze – Müller (Podolski 82)
Subs: Weidenfeller, Zieler, Durm, Ginter, Draxler, Großkreutz, Kramer, Schweinsteiger, Klose

Portugal line-up: Rui Patricio - Bruno Alves, Pepe, Joao Pereira, Fabio Coentrao (André Almeida 65) - Miguel Veloso (Ricardo Costa 46) - Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles - Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo - Hugo Almeida (Eder 28)

Goals: 1-0 Müller (12, pen), 2-0 Hummels (32), 3-0 Müller (45+1), 4-0 Müller (78)