Mueller's big hat trick fuels Germany's 4-0 rout of Portugal

Associated Press Published:

Group G

GERMANY 4, PORTUGAL 0

SALVADOR, Brazil -- 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."

Group F

IRAN 0, NIGERIA 0

CURITIBA, Brazil -- Nigeria and Iran delivered the first draw of the World Cup on Monday as they ground out a scrappy 0-0 stalemate in their opening match in Group F.

The draw at the Arena da Baixada in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba followed 12 mostly high scoring and attacking games.

After a first half in which Nigeria failed to capitalize on its dominance, chances were few and far between in the second.

In the early passages of play, Nigeria had shown menace, with much of its attacking thrust coming down the left with Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses combining to cause problems for the defensively-minded Iran side.

Nigeria came closest to scoring in the seventh minute when an Ahmed Musa goal was disallowed after John Obi Mikel was adjudged to have fouled Iran goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi at a corner.

Iran grew more confident as the game progressed and came close to scoring in the 34th when a Reza Ghoochannejhad header required a sharp save from Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

In the second half, both sides were guilty of sloppy passages of play, to the growing annoyance of the mainly Brazilian crowd. Players from both sides snatched at chances, and neither goalkeeper was troubled despite some frantic late pressure in the final minutes.

Both sides must now look to beat tournament debutant Bosnia-Herzegovina in a group that most expect to be won by Argentina. Lionel Messi scored one of the tournament's best goals in Argentina's 2-1 victory over the Bosnians on Sunday.

The result will be a disappointment for Nigeria, the current Africa Cup of Nations champion. Following a long slump, the team had been showing signs of some of the flair and power that had marked the country's football in the 1990s.

For Iran, the result was greeted with relief by its noisy fans.

The draw means that the winless run of both teams continues. Neither side has won a match at the World Cup finals since France 1998.

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