SALVADOR: Thomas Mueller scored a hat-trick as Germany thrashed Portugal 4-0 to leave Cristiano Ronaldo’s dreams of dominating the World Cup in tatters yesterday.
Bayern Munich star Mueller bagged the first treble of his international career as three-times champions Germany shrugged off a troubled build-up to the tournament to make a flying start.
But it was a disastrous afternoon at Salvador’s Fonte Nova Arena for Ronaldo and Portugal, who had defender Pepe sent off for a first half headbutt on Mueller.
Mueller opened the scoring from the penalty spot after 12 minutes before defender Mats Hummels doubled Germany’s advantage on the half-hour mark.
The 24-year-old centre forward struck again at the end of the first half before tapping home a close range effort on 78 minutes.
A wretched outing for Portugal was compounded by the sight of Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao being stretchered off in the second half.
But the biggest concern will be the form of Ronaldo, who had hoped to sparkle at the World Cup after helping Real Madrid to the Champions League this season.
The 29-year-old winger, who was battling injuries before the tournament, had declared himself 100 percent fit on the eve of the match.
However the former Manchester United star looked way below his best, and a poorly scuffed free-kick summed up his afternoon of disappointment.
Dissapointed Ronaldo stormed past reporters after tasting defeat for the fourth consecutive time against Germany as Portugal lost 4-0 in their World Cup opener.
The 29-year-old Portuguese captain played the full 90 minutes of the Group G clash despite recent injuries, but he was powerless to prevent his side being over-run as Germany’s Thomas Mueller scored a hat-trick.
“Three players are down to talk to the media and I am not one of them,” he said, brushing off requests for mixed zone interviews at Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova. The Real Madrid star endured a subdued afternoon with five shots on goal as Portugal failed to make an impact on the German defence.
This was the fourth time Portugal has lost to Germany at major tournaments having been beaten by them at the 2006 World Cup -- in the third place match -- plus both the 2008 and 2012 European championships.
Portugal’s record goal-scorer made his 112th international appearance, but failed to add to his goal tally of 49, which includes just two World Cup goals. On the eve of the match, Ronaldo baulked when asked if his World Cup record -- the Portuguese went out to eventual champions Spain in the last 16 in 2010 -- was the only blot in his stellar career.
“I don’t think I have to show anyone anything. If you look at my statistics and CV you’ll see that,” he said brusquely in Sunday’s press conference.
“I have no words for that question, I just have to continue my career, which has been great so far.”
Portugal now play the United States on June 22 and 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana on June 26 in their remaining group games.
Meanwhile, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari took time out yesterday from preparing his side’s World Cup meeting with Mexico by urging his former team Portugal to keep their chins up after a thrashing by Germany.
Scolari led Portugal to the final of Euro 2004 as well as the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2006 and he admitted he felt for them after their 4-0 swamping in Salvador.
“I should like to remind Portugal and my Portuguese friends that at Euro 2004, when I was coach, we lost our opening group game and then won the others to qualify for the second phase,” said ‘Felipao’.AFP