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Reuters flops of the World Cup tournament

- Flops of the tournament as selected by Reuters journalists (4-3-3):

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas (Spain)

Defenders: Dani Alves (Brazil), Sergio Ramos (Spain), Pepe (Portugal), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Cameroon)

...

Reuters flops of the World Cup tournament

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"Jaded" Messi has disappointed at World Cup, says Lineker

Soccer-Mueller surprised how easy it was to destroy Portugal

Germany's Thomas Mueller celebrates scoring his team's third goal, his second goal for the match, against Portugal during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Fonte Nova arena in Salvador, June 16, 2014. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

By Mark Gleeson

SALVADOR Brazil (Reuters) - Thomas Mueller and his Germany team mates could hardly believe their eyes when they looked up at the scoreboard early in the first half and saw they were leading Portugal 2-0 in their World Cup opening match on Monday.

The Germany striker had scored the first of his three goals in the 4-0 rout of the team they feared most in Group G and he was soon involved in an incident that all but ended Portugal's hopes of a comeback.

"We looked up and thought 'Hoopla'!" Mueller told Germany's ARD television.

"There was still a long match ahead of us and it was really hot in the sun."

Things got even hotter for Mueller a quarter hour later when he got entangled in an incident with Portugal defender Pepe that led to the World Cup's third red card.

Mueller said he felt Pepe's fist strike his head as both players tried to head a ball and the big German went crashing to the ground.

Pepe, angry at what he thought was Mueller's exaggerated fall, went over to Mueller on the ground and pushed his head into the German's.

Mueller jumped on his feet and the two shouted at each other for a tense moment before being separated. Pepe was sent off.

"I'd like to see it in TV," Mueller said. "I only hope that I looked okay. I felt a blow from his fist. But what happened after that I can't really remember, whether we were head-to-head or not. I just hope it didn't look stupid on TV.

"I didn't want to cheat," Mueller added. "I don't know for sure how I got out of there."

Mueller, who won the Golden Boot of the 2010 World Cup with five goals in six appearances, said he had not been looking for a clash with Pepe but was not about to back down against the defender either.

"I've experienced a number of things in international football matches over the last four years and I'm not the kind of guy who gets easily scared," said the 24-year-old Mueller.

The Bayern Munich striker, who has now scored 20 goals for Germany in 50 matches, said he and his team mates had a great time running up the score against Portugal and even lamented the fact they wasted several good chances in the first half.

"We had some good counter-attacks as well and could have even scored more if we took advantage of our chances," he said.

"It was great. Each goal that went in seemed to be better than the one before it."

(THis story corrects fifth para to say Pepe's sending-off was third red card of the tournament)

(Writing by Erik Kirschbaum, editing by Ed Osmond)

Pictures of the Day

Features

Reuters flops of the World Cup tournament

- Flops of the tournament as selected by Reuters journalists (4-3-3):

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas (Spain)

Defenders: Dani Alves (Brazil), Sergio Ramos (Spain), Pepe (Portugal), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Cameroon)

...

Reuters flops of the World Cup tournament

Five of the best goals from the World Cup

- The 2014 World Cup has produced several goals of outstanding quality. The following are five of the best so far according to Reuters.

- - - -

James Rodriguez (Colombia 2 Uruguay 0)

Rodriguez...

Five of the best goals from the World Cup

"Jaded" Messi has disappointed at World Cup, says Lineker

- Argentina's Lionel Messi has looked "jaded" and "staccato" in a disappointing World Cup overall despite some magical moments, former England striker Gary Lineker said on Saturday.

The four-times World Player of the Year and...

"Jaded" Messi has disappointed at World Cup, says Lineker