By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 16th 2014)
World Player of the Year or not, there was little that Cristiano Ronaldo could do but watch in horror as Germany took control as Pepe was sent off for stupidly reacting to Thomas Müller’s play-acting. The Serbian referee Milorad Mažić let play continue, but Pepe remonstrated with Müller touching heads. Müller leapt to his feet, but Mažić brandished the red card – a not unfamiliar sight for Pepe, who trudged off with his team already two goals down after 37 minutes.
It got worse as Müller got his second and Germany’s third in injury time as Bruno Alves’ attempt to clear fell kindly for Müller. Portuguese goal-keeper Rui Patrício could have done better, but Germany were worth their three goal lead at half time. Müller completed his hat-trick late in the second half. In a very bad week for Iberian football Portugal followed the 1-5 drubbing of Spain with a 0-4 thrashing by Germany.
Valencia defender João Pereira held Mario Götze back. Mažić rightly booked Pereira and gave a penalty which Müller dispatched after 12 minutes to Patrício’s right. Twenty minutes later Mats Hummels added a second – a powerful header from Toni Kroos’ corner, despite the greater defensive presence. The corner was earned after a great run by Arsenal’s Mesut Özil who cut it back to Götze. Pereira blocked Götze’s shot.
Germany should have been two up with just over ten minutes played. Only Sami Khedira will know how he missed an open goal when Patrício tried to play it out of his area from the left of his area. The Real Madrid midfielder shot wide of an empty net after 8 minutes, leaving Patrício a very relieved man.
Khedira’s club team-mate and world footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo had two chances previously. The first he blasted well over and the second was saved easily by Manuel Neuer from a tight angle after Phillip Lahm had been dispossessed by Miguel Veloso. Nani’s 24th minute shot from just outside the area cleared the bar and hit the stanchion.
Fabio Coentrao had a chance that ought to have been pulled back for off-side, but won a corner and Eder had two headers, but Neuer remained untested. Five minutes into the second half Özil was through on goal, but Patrício saved it and Müller headed it over.
Portugal’s fate was sealed by misfortune. Nani got in the way pinching possession from a better placed Fabio Coentrao. The chance was wasted and ten minutes later a leg strain caused Coentrao to be replaced – his tournament possibly over as he was stretchered off. Götze had an opportunity to make it four after André Schürrle’s cross, but Pereira blocked his shot.
There was one major cause for concern for German manager Joachim Löw. Hummels limped off after landing awkwardly when challenging Eder.
With 15 minutes remaining Nani – virtually a spectator for Manchester United from January – saw his shot parried by Neuer. Eder went down under Benedikt Höwedes’ challenge, but Mažić wasn’t interested in awarding a penalty despite Ronaldo’s protests. Shortly afterwards Müller completed his hat-trick after another mishap by Patrício. He pushed Schürrle’s shot straight into Müller’s path for a tap-in to complete his hat-trick on his 50th appearance for his country.
Within five minutes Müller was taken off to receive a standing ovation from the German fans. In injury time Ronaldo struck a 30 yard free-kick, but too close to Neuer. There wasn’t even a consolation for the World Player of the Year.