Ronaldo and Portugal humbled as Mueller’s hat trick leads Germany to 4-0 rout


Portugal’s Pepe head-butts Germany’s Thomas Mueller during a World Cup match on Monday, June 16, 2014.

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SALVADOR, Brazil — As World Cup openers go, this was about as bad as it gets for Portugal.

Thumped 4-0 by Germany, one key defender sent off, another possibly out of the tournament with injury and their World Player of the Year looking decidedly unfit.

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t lacking in effort but was as powerless as those around him to prevent Portugal being steamrollered by Der Mannschaft.

It started badly for Paulo Bento’s men and got steadily worse.

They were 1-0 down after 10 minutes when Joao Pereira was adjudged to have hauled down Mario Gotze, Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller slotting home from the spot.

It was 2-0 just after the half four mark as Mats Hummels thumped a header into the net from Toni Kroos’ corner.

Just five minutes later Real Madrid defender Pepe tangled with Muller, who sank to the turf claiming a hand to the face.

Pepe then stood over his opponent and pushed his head towards Muller’s, the German’s theatrical reaction perhaps persuading the referee to show a red card.

Muller then struck just before the interval to put the game well beyond Portugal, pouncing on a loose ball to fire past Rui Patricio.

And the Bayern man completed a memorable hat trick on 78 minutes, scuffing a shot into the net after a Toni Kroos cross had been parried by the goalkeeper.

Ronaldo nearly opened his World Cup account in stoppage time but Manuel Neuer saved brilliantly from his fierce free kick.

Later on Tuesday, the other two teams in Group G — Ghana and the United States — meet in Natal, while Iran play Nigeria in Curitiba.

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