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Thomas Mueller scores three as Germany rout 10-man Portugal 4-0

SALVADOR, Brazil -- Thomas Mueller scored a hat trick as Germany turned on its style and power to rout 10-man Portugal 4-0 in their World Cup Group G opener on Monday.

Mueller, who scored five goals in the 2010 World Cup, was ruthless against a weak Portugal team that was clearly outplayed despite the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo.

“To score three goals in the World Cup opener against such an opponent is great,” Mueller said.

With Chancellor Angela Merkel supporting in the stands, the German team celebrated its 100th World Cup match with a rousing victory that was virtually assured by halftime.

“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.”

Germany always aims to have an impressive start and it certainly did this time. Four years ago, it started with a 4-0 win over Australia and reached the semifinals.

What must be worrying for Germany's opponents is the apparent ease with which Joachim Loew's lineup disposed of the fourth-ranked team in the world. Germany next faces Ghana on June 21 and the United States on June 26.

Germany coach Joachim Loew said his team implemented his game plan very well, winning the ball in midfield and then quickly attacking.

Mueller scored either side of Mats Hummels' headed goal as Germany took a 3-0 lead at the break, and added his third goal in the 81st.

Ronaldo started at Arena Fonte Nova after overcoming a knee injury. He faded after threatening early in the match, including a shot from a break that Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer could only block, but there was nobody from Portugal to pounce on the rebound.

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 Dempsey goal puts the US ahead of Ghana in 29 secs. 
Germany's forward Thomas Mueller, right, controls the ball as Portugal's defender Ricardo Costa challenges during the Group G soccer match between Germany and Portugal at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador, Brazil on Monday. (AFP)

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