Muller used to the big stage

16 June 2014 10:47

Thomas Muller is getting used to hogging the limelight after moving on to eight World Cup goals in just seven finals appearances with a hat-trick against Portugal on Monday.

The Bayern Munich forward got Germany on their way to a 4-0 opening Group G fixture win with a penalty, and he said afterwards he did not feel the nerves at all as he stepped up to the spot.

"I've been involved in the last three major tournaments so I'm used to the pressure," he said. "But to score three goals in one game - that's pretty amazing, and the goals just got better and better.

"It's fantastic, but the merit also goes to the rest of the team."

Muller was nevertheless the absolute protagonist of a game which also saw his tangle with Portugal's Pepe lead to the Real Madrid defender receiving a red card with the game still not fully decided at 2-0 in Germany's favour.

"I just felt a blow from his fist, but I can't really remember much of what happened after," said Muller, who confronted his assailant verbally, but not physically to ensure his own name did not end up in the referee's book.

The name of Cristiano Ronaldo was not scribbled in there, though, with the man expected to make the difference for the nation ranked fourth in the world against the one two places higher unable to get his name in the goalscorer's column.

Jerome Boateng, tasked with dealing with the Ballon d'Or winner, was delighted to come out on top of that personal battle, although he, like Muller, emphasised the triumph of the collective.

"We gave them hardly any room and we put them under a lot of pressure," he told Germany's ARD television.

"It was a great team performance. Cristiano Ronaldo never even had a chance really."

For Portugal, it is now back to the drawing board ahead of their remaining two group games against USA and Ghana with coach Paulo Bento admitting he has a lot to work on.

"We're going to have to analyse this game in depth," he said. "Of course we're very disappointed.

"We tried a few things in the second half, but the game was already lost by then. There was nothing more we could have done.

"Apart from the first five minutes, we were just not in the game."

Source: PA