Final, 4-0 Germany: It’s over. Germany demonstrates its World Cup title credentials with a resounding victory over Portugal.
For Germany, it was a dream start to the 2014 World Cup. Muller led the way with a hat trick, as the Germans dispatched what was supposed to be their toughest group-stage opponent with startling ease. While Germany benefited from the early penalty kick, the level of its performance continually improved as Portugal’s descended into farce.
Portugal was out of the game by halftime, but it suffered setback after setback through the end of the contest. Portugal never established a rhythm to its play and showed a lack of mental strength in the manner in which it lost. Pepe’s red card previewed a second half in which Portugal players argued among themselves and with the referee, who did them few, if any, favors. In the end, the Portuguese were left hanging their heads after their worst-ever defensive showing at a World Cup.
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Germany cruises to the top of Group G with the victory. It will have few new worries when it faces Ghana in its next game on June 21 — the exception being Hummels’ injury.
Portugal must recover both physically and psychologically before its next game. It faces the United States on June 22. Pepe won’t play. Hugo Almeida and Coentrao likely will be out because of injury.
That’s all for now, and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.
90th minute +2, Germany 4-0: Ronaldo fires a free kick on goal, but Neuer makes a diving save.
85th minute, 4-0 Germany: Ronaldo looks to put Portugal on the scoreboard, but Lahm blocks his shot.
82nd minute, 4-0 Germany: Lukas Podolski comes on for Muller, Germany’s hat-trick hero.
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78th minute, 4-0 Germany: Thomas Muller makes it a hat trick and confirms the rout.
After a long spell of Germany possession, Schurrle passed across the face of goal. It hit the hand of the diving Patricio, and the quick-thinking Muller arrived first and knocked in the rebound.
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75th minute, 3-0 Germany: There’s some controversy. Hoewedes made a clumsy tackle on Eder inside the Germany penalty area. The referee ignored Portugal’s appeals for a penalty kick, and a livid Ronaldo ran straight up to the official with his arms out and made a forceful argument in vain.
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72nd minute, 3-0 Germany: Hummels collides with Eder in the air and lands awkwardly. Hummels’ leg appeared to twist when he landed, and he is staying down on the turf.
The Germany defender is being carried off the field. Mustafi replaces him.
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69th minute, 3-0 Germany: Germany exploits a rare Portugal foray and nearly scores on the counter-attack. Schurrle played a perfect ball to Gotze, who cut it back and shot over the crossbar.
65th minute, 3-0 Germany: Portugal brings Andre Almeida into the game in place of the injured Coentrao.
63rd minute, 3-0 Germany: Coentrao is down with an apparent groin injury. The Portugal fullback was stretching to reach a pass, and it looks like he pulled his groin in the process. Coentrao turned and signaled to the bench before falling to the turf.
62nd minute, 3-0 Germany: Germany is making a change. Schurrle comes on for Ozil.
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56th minute, 3-0 Germany: The second half is becoming a glorified practice session for Germany and an exercise in damage control for Portugal.
Germany is dominating possession and territory. Ozil, Muller, Kross and Gotze are switching positions in the final third, looking to combine and open up Portugal’s defense.
Ronaldo has been largely absent from the game, and the fans (presumably Portugal’s and the neutrals) have started to boo and whistle him.
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51st minute, 3-0 Germany: Ozil beats Portugal’s offside trap and breaks in alone, but Patricio races off his line to make the save. Muller arrives at the rebound first but heads it over the crossbar.
46th minute, 3-0 Germany: The second half is underway.
Portugal made a substitution during the break, bringing on center back Ricardo Costa for center midfielder Veloso.
Halftime, 3-0 Germany: That’s the end of the first half. Germany is up three and cruising to the top of Group G.
The first half couldn’t have gone any better for Germany. It couldn’t have gone any worse for Portugal. Germany scored three goals without playing its best soccer. Portugal lost a man to injury, lost another to a red card and probably lost the game before the start of the second half.
Muller’s early penalty-kick goal set the tone for what was to come. Almeida’s injury made it difficult for Portugal to mount a response, and Pepe’s red card sapped whatever momentum and belief his team might have had.
45th minute +1, 3-0 Germany: Muller scores again. Germany takes a three-goal lead.
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Kroos crossed into the area. Alves attempted to clear it out, but Muller blocked his effort. The ball then fell to Muller’s feet, and he fired it past Patricio from close range.
It’s Muller’s seventh career World Cup goal in seven games, and he’s just 24 years old.
41st minute, 2-0 Germany: The Germans are enjoying themselves on and off the field. Germany is passing the ball around with full confidence, and their fans greet every pass with cries of “Ole!”
37th minute, 2-0 Germany: Pepe is sent off, as Portugal’s first half grows increasingly disastrous.
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Pepe weakly hit Muller in the face in an effort to shield the ball. Muller pretended that the contact was worse than it actually was, and Pepe didn’t take kindly to the German’s play acting. Pepe put his head on top of Muller’s, and the referee punished him with a red card for an apparent head-butt.
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35th minute, 2-0 Germany: Germany stops playing and nearly concedes because of it.
The Germans thought the referee’s assistant would lift his offside flag, but it never came, and Coentra slid a pass across the face of the goal mouth that Ronaldo could have turned in had he too continued playing.
32nd minute, 2-0 Germany: Hummels thunders home the header, and Germany leads by two.
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Kroos floated the corner to the top of the six-yard box, and Hummels rose above Alves and Pepe to head it past a despairing Patricio.
31st minute, 1-0 Germany: Germany threatens to double the lead on the counter-attack. Ozil set up Kroos, who shot from inside the area, but Pereira intervened as Kroos was shooting and deflected it out of bounds for a corner kick.
28th minute, 1-0: Almeida’s game is over. Hummels made a tough but fair challenge on Almeida, and the Portugal striker suffered an apparent leg injury and hobbled off.
Almeida took his mustache into the dressing room with him.
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Eder comes on for the injured Almeida.
25th minute, 1-0 Germany: Nani cuts inside and shoots powerfully, but the Portugal winger missed the target by a few feet.
16th minute, 1-0 Germany: Germany couldn’t have asked for a better start. The goal quieted Portugal’s legions of fans and boosted Germany’s players.
12th minute, 1-0 Germany: Muller coolly slots his penalty kick past Patricio into to the lower-right corner of the goal.
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Tenth minute, 0-0: It’s a penalty kick for Germany. Periera dragged down Gotze in the Portugal area. The referee points to the spot and cautions the Portugal fullback for the offense.
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Eighth minute, 0-0: Patricio leaves his goal, makes a mess of a pass and is nearly punished for it.
The Portugal goalkeeper’s misplaced pass went straight to Khedira. The Germany midfielder shot first-time from 25 yards out, but his effort went wide.
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Fifth minute, 0-0: The game has started quickly with the teams looking to attack with speed.
Portugal creates the first chance, as Almeida breaks in and shoots, but his shot lacks the strength to beat Neuer, who made the save.
First minute, 0-0: The Group G game between Germany and Portugal is underway.
Pregame: Germany has a few surprises in its lineup.
Nominally a center back, Boateng plays as a fullback, while Lahm pushes into the midfield.
Low also has elected to play without a recognized striker, as Ozil, Gotze and Muller will rotate between the attacking midfield and forward positions.
11:45 a.m: Here are the lineups:
Manuel Neuer (1), goalkeeper
Benedikt Hoewedes (4), left back
Mats Hummels (5), center back
Per Mertesacker (17), center back
Jerome Boateng (20), right back
Philipp Lahm (16), midfielder
Toni Kroos (18), midfielder
Sami Khedira (6), midfielder
Mario Gotze (19), forward
Mesut Ozil (8), forward
Thomas Muller (13), forward
Rui Patricio (12), goalkeeper
Fabio Coentrao (5), left back
Pepe (3), center back
Bruno Alves (2), center back
Joao Pereira (21), right back
Miguel Veloso (4), midfielder
Rauel Meireles (16), midfielder
Joao Moutinho (8), midfielder
Cristiano Ronaldo (7), forward
Nani (17), forward
Hugo Almeida (9), striker
11:30 a.m. ET: The 2014 FIFA World Cup’s “Group of Death” kicks off Monday with a meeting between Germany and Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nove in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
Before a ball was kicked this summer in Brazil, both teams were considered to be among the contenders to win the World Cup. Germany is one of the favorites because of its wealth of talent and experience, while Portugal is a dark-horse candidate because when Cristiano Ronaldo plays, his team has a chance to beat anybody. The teams face off in a Group G clash.
Germany head coach Joachim Low led his country to the final of the 2008 UEFA European Championships, and the semifinals of both the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2012 UEFA European Championships. Low is relying on many of the same players who were part of those strong but ultimately ill-fated teams to help Germany win its first World Cup since 1990.
Portugal nearly reached the final of Euro 2012, only losing to eventual title winner Spain on penalty kicks in the semifinal. Head coach Paolo Bento’s team has plenty of talent at his disposal, but fielding them all at the same time has been an issue lately. Ronaldo has battled knee and thigh problems in recent weeks, while Pepe and Raul Meireles also missed game time during Portugal’s build-up to the World Cup. If they all play at or near 100 percent fitness, Portugal can be as strong as any team in the tournament. If they don’t, it could be a short World Cup journey for Bento and the Portuguese.
The game kicks off at noon. Join us right here for all the action from the Arena Fonte Nova.