Germany sent a message to the rest of the competitors here in Brazil with a 4-0 demolition of Portugal. The Lusitanians got no joy out of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, suffered two injuries to key players, and Pepe saw red just before half-time. The Germans, for their part, were in supreme form, scoring almost at will and getting the tournament’s first hat-trick through Thomas Muller.
Portugal had the first chance of the game in sunny Salvador, but Ronaldo’s effort from a tight angle was a false dawn. The Germans were in total control in short order and surged into attack. Portuguese keeper Rui Patricio misplayed the ball out of his area, gifting it to the feet of Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira, who somehow pushed his shot at the open goal wide of the mark. Minutes later, however, the Germans got their first goal. Mario Gotze was too quick and too clever for Joao Pereira, who resorted to dragging him down in the area. Thomas Muller stepped up to convert the spot-kick low and to his left, sending the German fans in the stadium into delirium.
From there on out, the Germans took control. Mesut Ozil was in complete control in the creative role. Incisive in attack, Muller and Gotze threatened constantly and Portugal coach Paulo Bento was forced into an early substitution. Ailing striker Hugo Almeida quit the pitch after a collision with Mats Hummels and was replaced by Guinea-Bissau-born new boy Eder, just 21. If got worse for Portugal, too, when just after the hour-mark, Mats Hummels rose higher than anyone in the penalty area to head home from a corner.
It really turned into a half to forget for the Portuguese when Pepe lost his cool. He head-butted Muller while the German predator sat on the pitch and was shown a straight red card for his efforts. Muller exacted revenge by adding his second goal at the death of the opening period, taking advantage of some slack defending and hammered home from near the penalty spot. Three goals down and a man short, their superstar captain CR7 unable to influence the game, Portuguese heads were spinning at the break.
Things didn’t get much better in the second-half. Mid-way through the period, creative midfielder Fabio Coentrao pulled up with a hamstring injury and had to be carried off on a stretcher. It looked the kind injury that won’t heal in short order. Not long after, German defender and scorer Hummels was also helped off the pitch after damaging his knee. It didn’t keep the Germans from scoring again, however, and 12 minutes from time Muller completed his hat-trick – the first of these finals – to make it 4-0
The wounded Portuguese had a late penalty claim denied and are now in desperate need of a good result in their next game on 22 June in Manaus. The Germans, who are oozing sunshine and confidence, take on Ghana the day before in Fortaleza.