World Cup Roundup: Germany dismantles Portugal, 4-0

Salvador, Brazil — Thomas Muller netted a hat trick on Monday as Germany opened Group G play with a comfortable 4-0 rout of 10-man Portugal at the Arena Fonte Nova.

The Germans got off the mark after just 11 minutes as Muller converted a penalty kick, and the advantage was doubled in the 32nd minute through a goal from defender Mats Hummels.

Things got worse for Portugal as defender Pepe was shown a straight red card following an altercation with Muller, and the Bayern Munich man took full advantage in first-half stoppage time when he buried his second goal of the day.

Muller finished his treble in the 78th minute when he fired one home from close range to become the fifth German player to score a hat trick in the World Cup.

“Winning was our only option and the team went out there with that in mind,” Germany head coach Joachim Low said. “Thomas did really well in attack and created a lot of space for us. We dominated the midfield and got the ball up to the forwards, where we were very fast.”

Germany surges to the top of Group G, with the U.S. joining it with three points. Germany leads the U.S. by goal differential (4-1).

Nigeria 0, Iran 0

Curitiba, Brazil — Opening play in Group F, Nigeria and Iran played to a listless, 0-0 draw, the first of its kind in the 2014 World Cup at the Arena de Baixada.

Despite a few early chances for the Super Eagles, there was nothing to split the teams on the scoreboard after the first half of play. Nigeria spent more time on the attack and generated better chances, outshooting Iran 5-2, but only two of those shots forced keeper Alireza Haghighi to make saves.

Both teams subbed on forwards in the second half and attempted to open up play with stretch passes, though very few of those were successful in setting up legitimate scoring opportunities. Nigeria’s last-ditch effort to grab the win came in the 90th minute on a promising cross to the back post, which was narrowly headed away by the Iranian defense.

Iran’s next match comes June 21 against heavily-favored Argentina, while Nigeria will take on Bosnia-Herzegovina later that day.

Sunday’s Matches Argentina 2, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 1

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil — Lionel Messi scored a wonderful goal in the second half to help Argentina to a 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Maracana on Sunday in Group F play.

Bosnia’s World Cup debut couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start as the team went behind inside of three minutes to an own goal from Sead Kolasinac.

Argentina was below par for much of the match and struggled to break down Bosnia’s defense, but Messi provided a moment of magic in the 65th to brighten up the proceedings as he combined with Gonzalo Higuain to notch his second career World Cup goal.

Vedad Ibisevic pulled a goal back for Bosnia six minutes from time, but Argentina was able to hold on for three points to move to the top of the group, while Nigeria and Iran will square off on Monday in the group’s other contest.

Argentina won a free kick on the left wing in the opening three minutes, and the South American side took a fortuitous lead as Messi swung the ball into the area for Marcos Rojo, whose flicked header struck Bosnia’s Kolasinac at the back post and redirected into the net.


Brasilia, Brazil — Haris Seferovic netted a late winner at the Estadio Nacional on Sunday to lift Switzerland to a dramatic 2-1 victory over Ecuador.

The two nations were expected to challenge for the runner-up position (behind group-favorite France) in Group E, but after Enner Valencia and Admir Mehmedi exchanged goals, it appeared as though they would be forced to share the spoils.

But Seferovic popped up with a late goal to hand Switzerland a vital win and lift the European nation to an early lead in the group.

Switzerland was slow out of the gate and Ecuador made Hitzfeld’s men pay by opening the scoring in the 22nd minute from a set-piece opportunity.

Walter Ayovi delivered a delicious cross to the top of the six-yard box where an unmarked Valencia was waiting to nod a shot past Diego Benaglio.

The Swiss emerged from the halftime interval and leveled the score within three minutes of the restart, also making the most of a dead-ball situation.


Porto Alegre, Brazil — Karim Benzema played a starring role in France’s opening match of the World Cup, scoring twice to lead his team to a 3-0 defeat of Honduras at the Estadio Beira-Rio on Sunday.

France seized control of the match in the 45th minute when Wilson Palacios received a second caution for a foul on Paul Pogba. Not only did Honduras drop to 10 men, but the foul occurred in the box, allowing Benzema to open the scoring from the penalty spot.

Benzema continued his fine play by creating a scoring opportunity in the 48th minute that saw Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares concede an own goal.

The Real Madrid man completed his fine outing by getting his second of the match in the 72nd minute, lifting Les Blues to a comfortable victory to go level with Switzerland atop Group E.

Saturday’s Matches ITALY 2, ENGLAND 1

Manaus, Brazil — Italy turned out a professional performance at the Arena Amazonia on Saturday to get a 2-1 victory over England.

Claudio Marchisio’s 35th-minute strike was canceled out by England’s Daniel Sturridge within two minutes, but Mario Balotelli notched the go-ahead goal five minutes into the second half to restore the lead.

The Italians maintained a compact formation for the remainder of the match to deny the Three Lions many clear-cut scoring opportunities, riding Balotelli’s game-winner to all three points.


Fortaleza, Brazil — Costa Rica pulled off a shock result at the Estadio Castelao on Saturday, coming from behind to get a 3-1 win over Uruguay to upset the balance in Group D.

Uruguay, a strong pre-tournament favorite to advance to the knockout round, grabbed the lead after 23 minutes thanks to Edinson Cavani’s penalty kick.

But the second half belonged to Los Ticos as goals from Joel Campbell, Oscar Duarte and Marco Urena turned the match in Costa Rica’s favor.

The result not only sees Costa Rica climb to the top of the group, but it also helps bring the record of CONCACAF teams in the World Cup to 2-0-0 following Mexico’s defeat of Cameroon on Friday.

Uruguay, which did not make use of Luis Suarez due to the star striker’s knee injury, looked likely to rout Costa Rica after taking the lead in the 23rd minute.


Recife, Brazil — The Ivory Coast scored two second-half goals in quick succession to come from behind in a 2-1 defeat of Japan at the Arena Pernambuco on Saturday in Group C play.

It was a tale of two halves as Japan controlled much of the early going, grabbing the lead after only 16 minutes.

Keisuke Honda produced the opening goal, taking a pass from Yuto Nagatomo and using one touch to settle before lashing a left-footed shot into the upper corner from the top of the box.

The Ivory Coast struggled to get going in the first half, but a rejuvenated side emerged from the halftime break.

Veteran striker Didier Drogba entered the match in the 62nd minute and helped make an immediate impact by adding some guile to the Ivory Coast attack.


Belo Horizonte, Brazil — Colombia made a promising start to its World Cup campaign on Saturday, cruising to a 3-0 defeat of Greece at the Estadio Mineirao.

Pablo Armero helped the Colombians jump out in front with a goal in the sixth minute while goals from Teo Gutierrez in the 58th minute and James Rodriguez in the third minute of stoppage time sealed all three points.

Colombia’s dominant performance began with an early strike as Juan Cuadrado squared pass for Armero to lash a shot on target. The shot took a slight deflection to trickle just inside the post as goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis failed to keep it out.

Greece’s best chance of the opening period came in the 45th minute when a loose ball rolled to the top of the box, allowing Panagiotis Kone to curl a right-footed effort toward goal, but David Ospina’s sprawling save denied the Bologna man an equalizer.


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