FINAL SCORE: Germany 4, Portugal 0

This was one of the most anticipated battles of the opening round of matches. Germany, one of the favorites to win the World Cup, taking on Portugal, led by perhaps the best player in the world in Ronaldo. “The Superpower versus the Superstar,” as ESPN said before the match.

Well, that went out the window very quickly.

Portugal actually looked like the better side for the first 10 minutes or so, getting some chances on the counter with Ronaldo and Nani speeding up the flanks, and the midfielders looking to dispossess Phillipp Lahm and Semi Khedira in the center of the mark. But then Joao Pereira yanked down Mario Gotze inside the box, leading to a penalty call from the referee. Thomas Muller buried it from the spot.

Germany would follow that up with a headed goal from center back Mats Hummels off a corner kick, giving them a 2-0 lead and taking the wind out of Portugal’s sails. It also continued to frustrate Pepe, which boiled over when he was involved in a tussle with Muller later in the half. Muller went down softly after Pepe hit him, and Pepe went over to admonish him, but headbutted him in the process. Pepe was given a straight red card and sent off. Down a man, Portugal was helpless to stop Germany. Muller added on another goal to make it 3-0 heading into halftime.

The second half was more of the same, with Germany controlling possession and looking likely to grab at least one more goal before time ran out. That came in the 78th minute, when Andre Schurrle crossed it from the end-line, and Muller was able to clean up Rui Patricio’s deflection to cap his hat-trick.

Germany looked like the World Cup favorite many projected, while Portugal is now in a major hole heading into Sunday’s match against the United States. The goal differential is -4, Ronaldo was neutralized and frustrated, Pepe is suspended, while Fabio Coentrao and Hugo Almeida are injured.

FINAL: Germany gets an early goal from the penalty spot, and then it unravels for Portugal. Pepe was sent off, Thomas Muller scored a hat-trick, and Ronaldo was mostly a non-factor after the opening minutes.

90′ + 2: Ronaldo had another free kick opportunity from about 30 yards out, but Manuel Neuer was able to parry it away. (GIF via @FlyByKnite)

857135419 2014 FIFA World Cup: Germany dominates Portugal, 4 0

90′: Two minutes of extra time added.

82′: Germany sub.

  • IN: Lukas Podolski
  • OUT: Thomas Muller

Muller now has eight World Cup goals, and he’s only 24. He likely has two World Cups left in his career — the record is 15, held by Brazil’s Ronaldo.

GOAL VINE: (via @TopDrawerSoccer)

78′: GOAL! And a hat-trick for Thomas Muller! He knocks in a rebound from inside the six-yard box after Andre Schurrle’s cross was knocked away by Rui Patricio.

75′: Wild sequence of events. Nani had a go from about 25 yards out, it was parried by Neuer, but Eder won the race to the rebound — before being taken out. No call. Ronaldo got into the referree’s face, before being pushed away. No card. Eder should have earned a penalty, while Ronaldo could have been given a yellow card.

(GIF via @FlyByKnite)

857134280 2014 FIFA World Cup: Germany dominates Portugal, 4 0

73′: Germany sub.

  • IN: Shkodran Mustafi.
  • OUT: Mats Hummels.

Hummels looked like he injured his knee going up for a header against Eder. He had to be helped off the pitch.

(GIF via @WorldSoccerTalk)

71′: If Coentrao is forced to miss the U.S. match on Sunday, Portugal will have to go to their bench for two defenders — an area they struggle. Portugal started the same back four in every qualifying match and every match at Euro 2012. They lack depth, but will need at least one replacement for the weekend (for the suspended Pepe). That could bode well for the U.S.

69′: Germany had another chance on the counterattack. Andre Schurrle led the push, then passed it across to Mario Gotze, whose attempt on goal was deflected out of bounds by a sliding Portugal defender.

65′: Portugal sub.

  • IN: Andre Almeida
  • OUT: Fabio Coentrao

64′: More bad news for Portugal.

Left back Fabio Coentrao pulled up lame after extending for a ball going out of bounds. It looked like a groin injury. He was carted to the locker room.

62′ Germany sub.

  • IN: Andre Schurrle
  • OUT: Mesut Ozil

60′: Set-pieces from Ronaldo still are one of the most anticipated moments in world soccer. He had a chance against Germany, but it hit the wall and went out of bounds.

58′: Ronaldo has mentally checked out. His runs are lethargic, his movement isn’t great. Even his take-ons don’t have the same aggression they did in the early minutes.

53′: Fabio Coentrao looked like he was set to take a pass and move into shooting position, when Nani appeared out of nowhere and took it from him. They’re on the same team. Portugal, not on the same page.

51′: Nearly 4-0. Ozil made a terrific run behind the Portugal back line, but Patricio stopped him in the one-on-one break. Thomas Muller’s header on the rebound went over the crossbar.

49′: Ronaldo stayed on for the second half, and has moved into a more attacking role, playing alongside Eder up front. Nani has moved into the center, next to Joao Moutinho in the midfield.

45′: Portugal sub.

  • In: Ricardo Costa
  • Out: Miguel Veloso

You make the call: Is Meireles giving double birds? At least one looks like an index finger to me, but not sure how much sense that makes.

HALFTIME: Germany heads into the break with a 3-0 lead.

It’s been an absolute disaster for Portugal, which actually looked like the better side for most of the opening minutes. They created early chances for Ronaldo, had opportunities on the counter, and generally looked threatening. Then there was the penalty. And the header. And more missed opportunities.

And then came the potentially group-changing moment for Pepe. After being involved in a scuffle with Thomas Muller, he went back to seemingly admonish Muller for going down too softly. In the process, he headbutted Muller. Pepe received a red card and was sent off, meaning he will miss Sunday’s match against the United States as well. With Germany up a man, they essentially were able to do whatever they wanted, and Muller added another goal to put Germany up 3-0.

This is also great for the United States, should they knock off Ghana today. Portugal’s goal differential is going to be horrendous after this one.

GOAL VINE: (via @TopDrawerSoccer)

45′ + 1: GOAL! Thomas Muller denies a clearance from Bruno Alves, then beats Rui Patricio.

37′: RED CARD! Pepe is sent off after headbutting Thomas Muller. He will miss the U.S. game on Sunday as well.

36′: Two chances for Portugal. Fabio Coentrao received a pass just outside the six-yard box, but no one made a run for him and it went out for a corner. Eder headed the ensuing cross over the net.

35′: Nani was on the break again, and had a chance to either go one-on-one with his defender or put in a dangerous cross to Ronaldo. Instead, he laid it across the 18 too softly, and it didn’t reach Ronaldo.

GOAL VINE: (via @TopDrawerSoccer)

32′: GOAL! Mats Hummels buries a header into the back of the net off of Germany’s ensuing corner.

31′: It was nearly 2-0. Ozil gets in behind the Portugal defense, then lays it off for a charging Mario Gotze, but Joao Pereira slid in and forced Gotze’s attempt wide.

28′: Portugal sub.

  • IN: Eder
  • OUT: Hugo Almeida
Helder Postiga had been a consistent starter for Portugal at Euro 2012, and was expected to be the starting striker again in Brazil. But Almeida got the start, and Postiga doesn’t even get the nod as a sub.

25′: Nani nearly tied the match with an impressive strike from 20 yards out. It looked like he might have had Neuer beat, but it went over the crossbar. (GIF via @FlyByKnite)


Read more at CBS Sports

By Jeff Borzello |

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