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Mueller scores 3, Germany routs Portugal 4-0

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SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Thomas Mueller picked up where he left off at the World Cup, scoring a hat trick in Germany’s 4-0 victory over 10-man Portugal in the Group G opener on Monday.

Mueller scored five goals at the 2010 World Cup, along with three other players, but he also had three assists and that gave the Bayern Munich forward the honor of top scorer in South Africa.

“To score three goals in the World Cup opener against such an opponent is great,” Mueller said of his performance against Portugal, which was outclassed despite the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Mueller opened the scoring with a penalty in the 12th minute and, after Mats Hummels’ headed goal in the 32nd, virtually put the match away by adding another shortly before halftime for a decisive 3-0 lead. Mueller added his third in the 81st.

“He is such an unorthodox player, as a coach you never know what he is about to do,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said of Mueller. “For opponents, he is very unpredictable, he only has one thought on his mind and that is to score a goal.”

Ronaldo, Portugal’s star striker and FIFA’s world player of the year, threatened a few times early in the match but remained largely ineffective. He had been doubtful before the match because of a left-knee injury.

Loew commended his players for cutting off Ronaldo’s supply of possession and keeping Portugal’s key player out of the game.

With Chancellor Angela Merkel supporting in the stands – and later congratulating them in the locker room – the German team celebrated its 100th World Cup match with a rousing victory.

“After 20 minutes, we looked up at the clock and thought it was going to be a long day,” Mueller said. “But we got into the match very well and when you lead by 2-0 in this heat and then even get the third, it was all over.”

Germany always aims to have an impressive start and it certainly did this time. Four years ago, it started with a 4-0 win over Australia and reached the semifinals.

What must be worrying for Germany’s opponents is the apparent ease with which Loew’s lineup disposed of the fourth-ranked team in the world. Germany next faces Ghana on June 21 and the United States on June 26.

Portugal is becoming Germany’s favorite opponent to beat up on in major tournaments. Germany won their 2006 World Cup third-place match 3-1, won 3-2 at Euro 2008, then beat Portugal again 1-0 at the start of Euro 2012. But this was the most convincing win of them all.

Loew said his team implemented his game plan very well, winning the ball in midfield and then quickly attacking.

“The match was over in the first 45 minutes,” Portugal Coach Paulo Bento said. “Germany controlled the ball and they surprised us with counterattacking.

“They scored with great efficiency. They were not so superior as the result showed, and we made bad mistakes. We did not perform as we had expected.”

Portugal was already 2-0 down before Pepe was red carded in the 37th minute for apparently head-butting Mueller when the German player was sitting on the ground. Pepe had stuck his hand into Mueller’s face and the German went down.

“I got hit but after that I am not really sure what happened,” Mueller said. “But whatever he did was uncalled for.”

After the opening penalty, Hummels doubled Germany’s lead when he rose above Pepe and nodded in a well-timed header from a corner.

Germany capitalized quickly on its one-man advantage when Mueller made it 3-0 just before the break when he stripped the ball from Bruno Alves and drilled in a low shot.

Mueller completed the rout late in the second half, poking in from close range after Rui Patricio had fumbled a low cross from substitute Andre Schuerrle. He said the margin should have been bigger.

“We should have used some of our chances better,” Mueller said, adding that it was hard to play in midday heat and humidity.

Mueller scores 3, Germany routs Portugal 4-0

KDWN

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Thomas Mueller scored a hat trick as Germany turned on its style and power to rout 10-man Portugal 4-0 in their World Cup Group G opener on Monday.

Mueller, who led the 2010 World Cup with five goals, was ruthless against a weak Portugal team that was clearly outplayed despite the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo.

With Chancellor Angela Merkel supporting in the stands, the German team celebrated its 100th World Cup match with a rousing victory that was virtually assured by halftime.

“After 20 minutes, we looked up at the clock and thought it was going to be a long day,” Mueller said. “But we got into the match very well and when you lead by 2-0 in this heat and then even get the third, it was all over.”

Germany always aims to have an impressive start and it certainly did this time. Four years ago, it started with a 4-0 win over Australia and reached the semifinals.

What must be worrying for Germany’s opponents is the apparent ease with which Joachim Loew’s lineup disposed of the fourth-ranked team in the world. Germany next faces Ghana on June 21 and the United States on June 26.

Mueller scored either side of Mats Hummels’ headed goal as Germany took a 3-0 lead at the break, and added his third goal in the 81st.

Ronaldo started at Arena Fonte Nova after overcoming a knee injury. He faded after threatening early in the match, including a shot from a break that Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer could only block, but there was nobody from Portugal to pounce on the rebound.

Portugal was already 2-0 down before Pepe was red carded in the 37th minute for apparently head-butting Mueller when the German player was sitting on the ground. Pepe had stuck his hand into Mueller’s face and the German went down.

“I got hit but after that I am not really sure what happened,” Mueller said.

It was Mueller who opened the scoring in the 12th minute after Mario Goetze had been pulled down by Joao Pereira in the box, coolly slotting the penalty kick into the right corner of Rui Patricio’s goal.

“I’ve been in some big matches before, so it’s not like I was afraid,” Mueller said.

Hummels had risen above Pepe to double Germany’s lead with a well-timed header from a corner in the 32nd, and Mueller extended the buffer just before the break when he stripped the ball from Bruno Alves and drilled in a low shot.

The Bayern Munich forward completed the rout late in the second half, poking in from close range after Patricio had fumbled a low cross from substitute Andre Schuerrle. He said the margin should have been bigger.

“We should have used some of our chances better,” Mueller said, adding that it was hard to play in midday heat and humidity.

Portugal’s chances were limited. Ronaldo fired a powerful free kick late in the match but Neuer punched it away.

Portugal also lost big striker Hugo Almeida to an injury. He was replaced by Eder in the 28th.

Fabio Coentrao injured a groin muscle and was helped off the field in 65th, to be replaced by Andre Almeida.

Hummels then limped off the field with a right-knee injury, giving substitute defender Shkodran Mustafi his second cap.

Germany could have scored more goals after the break but Mario Goetze and Mesut Ozil wasted good chances.

In the second Group D match later Monday, the United States was playing Ghana at Natal.

Mueller scores 3, Germany routs Portugal 4-0

KDWN

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Thomas Mueller scored a hat trick as Germany turned on its style and power to rout 10-man Portugal 4-0 in their World Cup Group G opener on Monday.

Mueller, who scored five goals at the 2010 World Cup, was ruthless against a weak Portugal team that was clearly outplayed.

With German chancellor Angela Merkel watching in the stands, her team celebrated its 100th World Cup match with a rousing victory.

The match was virtually decided by halftime, with Mueller scoring either side of Mats Hummels’ headed goal as Germany took a 3-0 lead at the break.

Portugal was reduced to 10 men when Pepe was red carded in the 37th minute for apparently head-butting Mueller as the German player sat on the ground.