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Germany beat Portugal, with Pepe red card and poor officiating, in World Cup

Pepe head butts Muller
Pepe head butts Muller
Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

Today in Salvador, Brazil, the German National Football Team defeated their Portuguese rivals 4-0 in the World Cup opener of Group G.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who was roundly booed by the crowd, was at no more than 80% of his regular self and several Portuguese players, such as key starters Fabio Coentrao and Pepe, seemed at less than 100% themselves.

The German victory, unfortunately, given their good play, was nonetheless obtained mainly thanks to two officiating calls. The first, was a controversial 10th minute penalty called for a questionable foul on Mario Gotze, converted by Thomas Mueller. The second, a red card to Pepe, for a post-foul aggression toward Mueller, could have been a yellow, but was certainly within the ref's discretion given the player's reputation and the physical manner in which the game was being played. The shame was that the precipitating foul itself, a faked hit in the face by Muller, was no foul and could just as easily been called on the German for diving. But the reaction was poor too and Pepe should have known better.

All of this, plus a Mats Hummels goal, happened before the 37th minute and set the stage for the rest of the match. Besides the loss in the game the Portuguese will have to deal with the loss of key players when their main star is in obvious subpar form.

After the penalty lead, Germany earned a corner kick goal by Mats Hummels at the 31st. Then came the red card for Pepe. With Portugal shell-shocked and a man down a pinball ricochet in the box at the 46th minute saw Muller the recipient of a point blank opportunity from close in which he dully converted for a 3-0 German lead by half time.

The second half was almost as controversial and certainly as costly for both teams.

Portugal, having to play catch up only on the counter, and only when numbers were clearly favorable, nevertheless managed to put pressure on Germany when the Iberians were not defending with all ten players.

At the 65th minute Coentrao went full out down the left wing on a potential counter, but as he reached for the ball he pulled up grabbing his hamstrings. He had to be stretchered off and it did not look good as the emergency personnel wasted no time in calling for the substitution.

Eight minutes later, Hummels took the harder spill on a mid-field collision and had to be helped off the field by two German trainers. He was also immediately substituted.

At the 75th minute Eder was taken down in the German box by their last defender, in a play that had more contact than the first half one that earned Germany their early lead. This one should have been a penalty and perhaps a red for the defender as well. But neither call ensued and the Germans dully marched down the field toward a less well defended Portuguese goal.

The eventual breakdown due to the lesser amount of Portuguese defenders allowed the Germans to get into the box with a close in shot goalkeeper Rui Patricio could only parry straight back into oncoming traffic. Muller reached the ball first for his hat trick and the lead on the tournament’s scorer’s board.

At the 92nd minute Ronaldo had his last free kick chance and he got off a great shot that Manuel Neuer did well to save. The game ended with two exhausted teams numbly leaving the pitch.

For Portugal, without the services of Pepe, perhaps Coentrao, and definitely with a weakened Ronaldo, the future seems bleak and the prospects for both Ghana and USA just exploded in their favor.