Muller: I didn't influence Pepe red

ByStephan Uersfeld ESPN logo
Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thomas Muller said he was overjoyed to score a hat trick in Germany's 4-0 win over Portugal -- and insisted he did not seek to get Pepe sent off.

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Muller opened the scoring with an early penalty and, after Germany had added a second through a Mats Hummels header, he was involved in a confrontation with Pepe that saw the Real Madrid defender dismissed for a clash of heads.

The Bayern Munich man added a further two goals to complete a resounding win and afterwards told ARD TV: "To score three in the opening match is just awesome. Each goal was more beautiful than the last.

"When you take the lead after 12 minutes, it obviously helps you on your way. We played extremely well on the counter-attack."

Germany were also assisted by the fact Portugal played the majority of the game with 10 men, but Muller denied he had overplayed the clash of heads to convince Serbian referee Milorad Mazic to issue a red card.

"I felt Pepe's hit," he said. "I can't influence a red card, and I was not playing for a red card."

Captain Philipp Lahm, meanwhile, told ARD that Germany had found the conditions in Salvador tough.

"The first half was brutal," he said. "It was unbelievable -- especially directly in the sun. We scored the goals just at the right time, and what is really important is that everyone, including the attacking three, worked incredibly hard. But our task isn't over yet."

Jerome Boateng said the players had worked hard to nullify Cristiano Ronaldo, who struggled to make an impact.

"We put the pressure on them from the first minute," he told ARD. "That was a great team effort. We doubled up on Ronaldo and it was really difficult for him -- the only chances he had came through set-pieces."

Germany boss Joachim Low praised Muller for his performance.

"Thomas did a great job," he said. "He kept the defence busy, opened up gaps and scored three goals -- that's Thomas Muller."

He added: "The team was compact, kept the line, did not allow Portugal a lot of chances."

He was also happy with both his centre-backs, saying: "Our goal was to attack Ronaldo from the moment he got the ball. Jerome Boateng did a great job.

"Mats Hummels offers a weapon in our attack because he runs into the ball. That goal also came at a great time. A 1-0 lead always is risky -- the opponent still has hope."

He confirmed that Dortmund defender Hummels suffered a thigh problem but added: "I'd like to think that it's not all that dramatic."

He was also pleased with Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil, who had received criticism leading into the match.

"Ozil covered a lot of ground, was always ready to receive the ball and worked a lot in defence," he said. "He was important for our team."

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