Salvador (Brazil), Jun 18 (PTI) : United States avenged the losses to Ghana in the past two World Cups with a 2-1 win in a brutal contest but the limelight belonged to German striker Thomas Mueller who scored this World Cup’s maiden hat-trick in a stunning annihilation of Portugal on the fifth day of the event here.
In fact, it was a night to remember for all the Germans connected to the action. If the team itself humiliated a 10-man Portugal 4-0, it was the German-born John Brooks who sealed it for the Americans against the 2010 quaterfinalists.
Incidentally, the Americans are being coached by German legend Juergen Klinsmann.
In the other match of the day, Iran and Nigeria settled for a rather drab 0-0 draw in group F.
The thrashing that Germany handed to the Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal was courtesy a Mueller hat-trick and one strike by defender Mats Hummels. The Unites States victory over Ghana was scripted by skipper Clint Dempsey and Brooks.
Andre Ayew pulled off the lone goal for Ghana.
The Americans were the first to get on the scoresheet when Dempsey sent in a left-footed shot past Ghana goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey in just under one minute of the match’s start.
His was the fifth fastest goal scored in the history of the World Cup.
However, Andrew Ayew drew level for Ghana in the 82nd minute feeding off a back-heel pass from skipper Asamoah Gyan.
The proceedings were set for a more dramtic turn when Brooks, who came in as a substitute, headed in an ultimately decisive goal in the 86th minute.
The 21-year-old defender’s strike left the Ghana players shocked and they just did not have the time to recover after that.
The win aside, the Americans were left quite brutalised at the end of the match with their striker Jozy Altidore being carried off on a stretcher after sustaining a hamstring sprain.
Dempsey too sustained a bloodied nose due to a kick from Ghana defender John Boye in the 31st minute but he played on.
He later admitted to having trouble breathing and was coughing blood.
Earlier, Iran and Nigeria played out this World Cup’s first draw in a dull match devoid of any major shots at the goal from either side.
The draw at the Arena da Baixada in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba followed 12 mostly high scoring and attacking games.
However, German striker Mueller did enough to light up the tournament with the role he played in his team’s 4-0 rout of Portugal in a characteristic display of attacking football.
Three-time champions Germany celebrated their record 100th World Cup match, the most for any country, in style by steamrolling the Ronaldo-led Portugal who played for nearly an hour with 10 men after defender Pepe was sent off for attempting a head-butt on Mueller in the 37th minute.
Mueller led a brilliant attacking brand of football with goals in the 12th, 45+1 and 78th minutes while Hummels scored the other one in the 32nd minute.
The Group G match at Arena Fonte Nova here, however, did not live up to the pre-game hype of a marquee clash with Germany toying with their opponents and Pepe’s dismissal making it worse for Portugal.
Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, who made it to the Portugal starting line-up after being bothered by a left-knee injury in the build-up, made little impact on the game. He threatened early with a shot from a break that Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer could only block. His other significant involvement was a fine free kick late into the match but Neuer was upto the task.
Germany are now joined by the United States on top of the group.
Germany were a class apart from Portugal in their first match of the tournament with their sizzling display of fast and furious football, which was watched by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Coach Joachim Loew deployed three attacking midfielders without a classical striker and used captain Philip Lahm as defensive midfielder instead of his favourite right back position where Jerome Boateng was tasked to try and stop Ronaldo.
The ploy worked with Germany running over their opponents and keeping Ronaldo more or less quiet for most part of the match.
Playing in his 50th game for Germany, the 24-year-old Mueller opened the scoring after Mario Goetze was pulled down by Joao Pereira in the box, coolly slotting the resultant penalty kick into the right corner of Rui Patricio’s goal.
Hummels then rose above Pepe to double Germany’s lead with a well-timed header from a corner.
Pepe was sent off in the 37th minute for charging on and apparently head-butting Mueller who went down theatrically after being hit on the face by his rival.
Mueller scored again just before the break, stripping the ball from Bruno Alves and drilling in a low shot. He completed his hat-trick in the 78th minute in a goal-mouth scramble after Portugal goalie Patricio had parried a shot.
In the process, Mueller, who scored five goals in the 2010 finals in South Africa to claim both the Golden Boot and best young player award, scored his 20th international goal and eighth World Cup goal over two editions.
With this win, Germany continued their domination of Portugal by adding Brazil 2014 to their list of recent wins over Ronaldo’s side which includes the 2006 World Cup, besides the 2008 and 2012 European championships.