Thomas Muller had a memorable 50th international match for Germany. Starting Germany's 100th FIFA World Cup game against Portugal in Salvador on Monday night, Muller scored the tournament's first hattrick and was involved in a red-card incident that left Portugal playing with 10 men for most parts of the match. Muller later said he did not feign injury and that he "didn't want to cheat."
Pepe, Portugal's central defender with a reputation for unsavoury play, was sent off in the 37th minute for an ill-tempered head butt on Muller. It came moments after the two had clashed for a ball, and it left Portugal with 10 men for nearly an hour. (Match Highlights)
Pepe and Muller both went for a ball, and Pepe's hand glanced off Muller's face. Based on Muller's reaction, it was a staggering blow, and he fell to the grass in perhaps staged agony. Pepe, not amused by what he felt was a case of cheesy acting, went to Muller as he sat on the turf, bent down with his head close to Muller's and, with a short burst, head-butted him.
"His hand was stuck in my face, and I fell on the floor," Muller said. "He came back, putting his head toward my head. "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." (Also read: How Thomas Mueller Reposed Joachim Loew's Faith)
Muller, 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. "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 Muller.
The Bayern Munich striker, who has now scored 20 goals for Germany in 50 matches, lamented that Germany 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."