Germany crushes Portugal; Iran and Nigeria play to scoreless draw
Germany's Thomas Mueller, left, scores his side's 4th goal during the group G World Cup soccer match between Germany and Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Monday, June 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Francois Marit, pool)
Nigeria's Emmanuel Emenike, left, grimaces after a challenge from Iran's Mehrdad Pouladi during the group F World Cup soccer match between Iran and Nigeria at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, Monday, June 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo protests to referee Milorad Mazic from Serbia during the group G World Cup soccer match between Germany and Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Monday, June 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Soccer fans pose for a photo with a woman whose body is painted with Germany's national soccer team colors, at the end of a live broadcast of the World Cup match between Portugal and Germany, inside the FIFA Fan Fest area on Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 16, 2014. Germany won 4-0. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Germany's Thomas Mueller, left, is greeted by Lukas Podolski after being substituted after scoring a hat-trick during the group G World Cup soccer match between Germany and Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Monday, June 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Germany was supposed to be a team that would melt in Brazil’s tropics.
Instead it was Portugal that felt the heat yesterday in a match in Salvador. Thomas Mueller scored a hat trick, Portugal played with 10 men after a red card in the 37th minute and German President Angela Merkel wore a big smile following a 4-0 victory in Brazil’s northeast.
The victory put Germany in control of Group G.
The World Cup continued to deliver lots of goals in the first 12 games – 41.
In the 13th game of the tournament, Nigeria and Iran played a scoreless draw – the first draw of this World Cup.
Two of the seeded teams – defending champion Spain and Uruguay – have been upset. That fate would not befall Germany.
It was Germany’s 100th World Cup match, and it had it wrapped up by halftime.
Mueller, who led the 2010 World Cup with five goals, scored on either side of Mats Hummels’s headed goal as Germany took a 3-0 lead at the break, and added his third goal in the 81st minute.
“To score three goals in the World Cup opener against such an opponent is great,” Mueller said.
“After 20 minutes, we looked up at the clock and thought it was going to be a long day,” he added. “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.”
Cristiano Ronaldo started at Arena Fonte Nova despite some nagging injuries. The winner of FIFA’s best player award, he faded after threatening early in the match. He had a shot from a break that Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer blocked, but there was nobody from Portugal to pounce on the rebound.
Iran 0, Nigeria 0
Nigeria and Iran delivered the first draw of the World Cup as they ground out a scrappy 0-0 stalemate in their opening match in Group F.
Argentina defeated Bosnia, 2-1, on Sunday in the other Group F match, and both will feel confident after watching Nigeria and Iran fail to produce.
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.
Iran Coach Carlos Queiroz said the result was “fair” and that his players deserved “sympathy and respect” for performing on the biggest stage despite the impact of economic sanctions on the country – which made it difficult to arrange friendlies.
“We’re not here to perform the role of the happy loser,” Queiroz said. “The fans need to know the conditions we have endured for three years to get here.”
Queiroz wouldn’t talk about the team’s next game against Argentina.
“Now I’m so tired just let me enjoy this point we collected from Nigeria,” he said.
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.
The draw means the winless World Cup runs of both teams continues, dating back to France 1998. For Iran, though, this was the first time it had not conceded a goal at the World Cup finals.