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WORLD CUP - Group G: Muller hat-trick allows Germany to start with a bang against Portugal

Germany have sent a strong warning to the rest of their World Cup competitors by beating Portugal 4-0 in Salvador in their Group G opener today.

A commanding and uncompromising performance from Joachim Low's Die Mannschaft, who were served by a Thomas Muller hat-trick, have put them in pole position in their group ahead of fixtures with Ghana and the USA.

Paulo Bento's Portugal side were well below par, especially after conceding early, but they strived hard to make a game of it after being reduced to ten men late in the first half.

The opening goal of the contest came in controversial circumstances when Mario Gotze was awarded a penalty when he was brought down in the area by Joao Pereira. The pair appeared to be having a fair tussle for the ball before some slight shirt tugging saw Gotze go to ground, prompting referee Milorad Mazic to point to the spot and show Pereira a yellow card.

Muller stepped up to the spot and despite Rui Patricio guessing the right way, the shot was placed perfectly to give the Germans an early lead.

Germany were looking fairly comfortable in the early stages and that confidence led to a second goal which came courtesy of a powerful header from Mats Hummels just after the half-hour mark.

Toni Kroos' out-swinging corner was met by the Borussia Dortmund centre-half who had risen above the pack to nod home past a hapless Rui Patricio.

Things went from bad to worse for the Portuguese later in the first half when fiery defender Pepe was sent off for a reckless act. The Real Madrid man had tangled with Muller, who initially was floored, before Pepe responded angrily and appeared to headbutt him while he was sitting on the ground.

It was a selfish performance from Pepe, who now has 13 red cards in his career, as his side were already two goals down and it would prove to have further consequences for the rest of the team.

In the final minute of the opening half, Muller grabbed a second when he managed to block Bruno Alves' clearance before throwing a left boot at the ball to see it rocket into the back of the net from the centre of the area.

The contest was all but over at the break but Muller wasn't finished and managed to complete his hat-trick in the 78th minute when knocking the ball in from pointblank range after Rui Patricio had kept out Andre Schurrle's initial effort.

Muller, who scored five goals in South Africa four years ago, now has eight goals in seven World Cup outings for Die Mannschaft and is crafting a remarkable record at the sport's most significant tournament.

Throughout the contest, Portugal were unable to produce any fluidity in the attacking third as a stern German defence continued to block any advances they made.

It was a complete performance from the Germans who have easily passed their hardest group stage test ahead of their June 21 meeting with Ghana in Fortaleza.

For Portugal, they will be heading back to the drawing board to write up a new game plan for their clash with the USA in Manaus on June 22.

2014 FIFA World Cup - Group G

Germany: 4 (Thomas Muller (p) 12'/45+1'/78', Mats Hummels 32') Portugal: 0

Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador - 51,081

Yellow cards:GER - nil POR - Joao Pereira 11'

Red card:POR - Pepe 37'

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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