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World Cup 2014: Germany show their true class


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World Cup 2014: Germany show their true class

Bayern Munich midfielder Thomas Mueller scored a hat trick to hand Germany an emphatic 4-0 win over 10- man Portugal in their World Cup group G opener in Salvador on Monday.

Paulo Bento’s men were already 2-0 down when Pepe was sent-off in the 37th minute for head-butting Mueller, leaving his team facing an uphill battle in the second half.

In Group G’s other game, the United States needed a late strike from substitute John Brooks to edge out Ghana 2-1 in Natal.

Former Fulham striker Clint Dempsey and Andre Ayew both netted before Brooks sealed the win with a perfect header.

Now looking at group F and Germany are still top thanks to a better goal difference over the United States.

Stalemate

African champions Nigeria were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Iran in their World Cup group F clash in Curitiba.

Argentina still lead the show after their hard-fought 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

Group H

The opening match of Group H sees Algeria lock horns with Belgium, a side touted by many as the dark horse to lift the World Cup trophy in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.

Forward Romelu Lukaku should be fit to play but coach Marc Wilmots has concerns over the injured Kevin De Bruyne, meaning Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj could start up front.

Algeria, the last African qualifiers, have no major injury concerns ahead of the game with strikers Riyad Mahrez and Nabil Ghilas expected to feature in the starting line-up.

The final match of the first round of World Cup group games takes place on Tuesday evening in Cuiaba between Russia and South Korea.

Despite the absence of captain Roman Shirokov, who was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury, Russian fans will take heart from the fact that their team finished an impressive 2014 qualifying campaign top of a group that also included Portugal.

The only previous meeting between the teams was just before the draw for the World Cup finals, when Russia beat South Korea 2-1 in a November friendly in Dubai last year.

Back in action

The teams in Group A are back in action on Tuesday for their second match. Brazil and Mexico both won their opening games and a win for either side here will all but guarantee them a place in the knock-out stages.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is likely to name the same starting lineup that saw off Croatia, with Neymar and Fred leading the attack.

Zenit St Petersburg forward Hulk limped out of a training session on Sunday morning but later announced he would be fit to start while Mexico have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the match.

The teams have met several times in the last few years, with Brazil winning in the Confederations Cup last year and Mexico coming out on top in the final of the 2012 Olympics.

In group A’s other game, Cameroon face Croatia in Manaus. Both teams have lost their opening games and are facing an early exit from the tournament.

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