From Ground Zero: Ronaldo fails as Muller shines in 4-0 rout

Zee Media Bureau/Shobhan Saxena from Rio de Janeiro

On the grandstand of Fonte Nova in Salvador, German Chancellor Angela Merkel clapped with great joy four times four times on the Monday afternoon. Sitting beside the Bahia state governor Jaques Wagner, the German leader saw the football team of his country trouncing Portugal 4-0 in their opening Group G game. With Ghana and US being the other two teams in the same group, some experts consider this group to be the real “Group of Death.”

After the game, meeting the players in the German dressing room, Angela Merkel told them that her long journey from Europe was worth the trip. What made the game worth watching was a hat-trick by German attacker Thomas Müller, who became the top scorer in the World Cup so far with three goals.

The biggest star of the match was completely off. Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo, voted best in the world by FIFA last season, did little today. He almost always fired without finding the target. The way Ronaldo played today did not even remotely remind the Portuguese fans of the star who leads Real Madrid so well.

In the second half, the situation became so bad that Ronaldo was booed by Portuguese and Brazilian fans whenever he touched the ball. After 40 minutes of the final stage, when Germany had already defined the game, Ronaldo staged an embarrassing attempt as he fired over goal post when the German goalkeeper was the only person he had to beat in order to score.

It was the biggest defeat for Portugal in the World Cup. To add insult to injury, Pepe, the Brazilian-born Portuguese defender got a red card for headbutting Muller when he was on the ground.

Portugal’s task became more complicated by the evening as the United States defeated Ghana by 2-1 late on Monday, as the two teams met in their opening games of the World Cup. The match began on a high as during the first attack of the Americans, the African defense dozed off and let the striker Dempsey enter the area freely and kick a cross to score the first goal of the match just after 29 seconds.

Ghana tried to attack but their reckless way, missed passes and poor shots at the goal gave them a few chances to equalize. Though the Americans bet on counterattacks, they also stumbled at crucial points and failed to add more goals in the first half. In the second half, the entry of Boateng in the Ghanaian side gave new impetus to the African attack and the equalizer came with Ayew after a good move in the middle.

Soon after, a few minutes from the end, the African defense dozed off again and Brooks took a corner kick, headed firm and sealed the game.

The game was also marked by hard fouls and many interruptions (two times, the referee gave five-minute increments). In the second round, Ghana faces Germany on Saturday, while the United States face Portugal on Sunday at the Arena Amazon.

Earlier in the day, Iran and Nigeria drew 0-0 at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba.

Even with two not too strong teams, the public filled the stadium. It was a busy game helped by mild climate but quite low in technical quality. After the final whistle, the fans booed both the teams.

While Iran played a defending game, Nigeria was prepared to attack, but they fell to their own inability to dismantle the opposition. With the result, Nigeria and Iran share the second position in Group F with one point. The leader is Argentina, which defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina by 2-1 on Sunday. In the next round, Iran faces Argentina on Saturday in Belo Horizonte. On the same day, Nigeria are back on the field to face Bosnia-Herzegovina in Cuiabá.

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