Germany 4 Portugal 0 match report: Thomas Mueller scores hat-trick as Cristiano Ronaldo fails to make impact

A red card for Pepe in the first-half ended the game as a contest

Arena Fonte Nova

In the long, trophy-free journey from Euro ’96 to Brazil 2014, Germany have gone from grudgingly respected serial winners to much-admired nearly men. It would be premature to declare they are ready to jump back on top of the podium but the evidence of their dismantling of Group G rivals Portugal was certainly compelling.

LIVE: Reaction to Germany win, plus the rest of the day's action

Joachim Löw’s men took Portugal apart yesterday with some wonderfully fluid attacking football in Salvador and showed that in Thomas Müller, they have a forward with an instinct for making his mark on the biggest stage of all.

Müller had finished the 2010 finals in South Africa as five-goal leading scorer and he has now added three more to that tally – the first hat-trick of this tournament – which, together with a Mats Hummels’ header, inflicted a record World Cup defeat on Portugal.

Read more: Mueller hails hat-trick as pretty amazing
Did Pepe deserve a red card?
Ronaldo left high and dry by inept team-mates

As his satisfied coach, Löw, said of the Bayern Munich man afterwards: “He has an instinct for creating dangerous situations for opponents and he scores in situations where you don’t expect it. On the pitch he is difficult for opponents to read, and he is certainly very unpredictable.”

Müller is not your classical centre-forward but he led the line impressively well yesterday, dropping off into pockets of space as the wide forwards on either side of him in the Germans’ three-man attack – Mesut Özil and Mario Götze – came inside, and runners broke from deep. Portugal, too often outnumbered down the flanks, just could not live with it. Like Spain against the Netherlands in this same arena three days earlier, they were simply blown away.

The pre-match build-up may have all been about Cristano Ronaldo and his race to be fit – and the roar that shook the Arena Fonte Nova as he stepped out to warm up was something to witness – but this was to be a day of misery for him.

The Fifa World Player of the Year was an isolated figure for significant periods and was denied even a late consolation goal when Manuel Neuer kept out a trademark free-kick. Ronaldo looked frustrated long before the end and he was not alone on an afternoon when everything went wrong for his team, who had Pepe sent off and two players – Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao – depart through injury.  The latter is now expected to miss  Sunday’s game against  the US.

If this was Müller’s day, the only pity was that he should have marred his performance with his play-acting in the incident that led to Pepe’s dismissal in the 38th minute. The Brazilian-born defender had one of his rushes of blood to the head after Müller threw himself theatrically to the ground after minimal contact from the defender’s trailing arm. Referee Milorad Mazic waved play on but Pepe  foolishly went to remonstrate with Müller and pushed his forehead into the German’s head to invite a red card.

Paulo Bento, the Portugal coach, was not convinced it was a sending-off and said it was one of two first-half decisions by the match officials that hurt his team, the other being the penalty after 12 minutes with which Müller opened the scoring.

“We all saw there were some things on the part of the referee that ended up penalising us,” Bento complained. The spot-kick came when Maxi Pereira was penalised for a tug on Götze’s arm as the German tried to wriggle away in the box and Müller converted low to Rui  Patricio’s right. It will  surprise nobody to discover it was the 19th successful penalty of Germany’s last 20 at World Cups.

Thomas Mueller celebrates on his way to a hat-trick Thomas Mueller celebrates on his way to a hat-trick  

On this evidence, Germany’s pace and movement are formidable and a feature of their game was how they released the forward runners quickly, Özil and Götze carrying out Löw’s instructions to exploit the space left by Ronaldo and Nani on either flank.

“We were very dominant in the middle and playing fast through-balls to the strikers,” said the coach.

The origins of the second goal lay in one such action as the excellent Toni Kroos from the middle of the pitch sent Özil away on the right and he squared for Götze, whose shot deflected wide off Pereira. Kroos delivered the ensuing corner with perfect accuracy and Hummels showed the hunger to get between the static Portugal centre-backs and power a header past Patricio.

Bento rued his team’s slack defending there and again when Müller made it 3-0 just before half-time. Bruno Alves got the first touch as a Kroos ball dropped between the pair but Müller was razor-sharp as the ball bounced down, slamming a shot that hit Patrico and flew high into the net.

Bento actually called the Germans “extremely efficient” and by comparison with his own team they were certainly that. Portugal did have first-half openings but took none of them.

There was an early one for Ronaldo when Raul Meireles caught Philipp Lahm dozing and supplied his captain, but Ronaldo’s angled drive from the left was well beaten away by the alert Neuer at the  near post.

At 1-0 Nani whistled a shot over the crossbar while  Coentrao should have done better than attempt a misplaced cutback to Ronaldo when played in by Joao Moutinho.

Mats Hummels Mats Hummels  

The solitary blessing for Portugal on a hot Salvador lunchtime was that Germany took their foot off the pedal in the second half. Özil might have had a goal but shot at Patricio when through and Müller nodded the rebound over. Götze was also wasteful when clear on goal, although Germany were fortunate to escape a penalty for Howedes’ foul on Eder as he pursued the rebound from a saved strike by Nani – a refereeing call that drew fierce whistles of derision from the Brazilian crowd.

In the end, a fourth Germany goal came with 12 minutes remaining when Patricio flapped at substitute André Schürrle’s cross and Müller tapped in his hat-trick strike. Indeed, the only piece of bad news for Löw’s men was a thigh injury sustained by Hummels, who had to be replaced by Shkodran Mustafi, once an Everton reserve player who made just one appearance at Goodison in the Europa League. He finds himself in rather more exalted company these days.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried