Germany thrash Ronaldo and Co. 4-0
Loew's men attack and defend as a unit while Portugal are over-reliant on Ronaldo
(Thomas Mueller 12-pen, 45+1, 78, Mats Hummels 32)
Portugal were supposed to be one of the outsiders for this World Cup, but a hideous afternoon of self-inflicted misery has put even their progression to the next stage in jeopardy.
Crushed 4-0 by a rampant Germany, they had only themselves to blame.
Portugal had no coherent game plan from the start, short of knocking it long for an uncomfortable-looking Cristiano Ronaldo.
On the other flank, Luis Nani was a huge disappointment, wasting possession and spurning chances.
Behind them, Portugal's distribution was desperately poor. And then there was Pepe.
Already two goals down, Portugal needed cool heads.
What they got was a head so hot it could melt steel.
Having already caught Thomas Mueller in the mouth with an outstretched hand, Pepe followed up the offence by forcing his head into the German's face.
Mueller's reaction to the initial contact was poor, he made the most of the offence, but Pepe has been at the top level of football long enough to know what happens when you rise to the bait.
Referee Milorad Mazic had no choice but to show him a straight red card.
The warning signs had been there from the start.
Germany lined up with four centre backs and no striker, with coach Joachim Loew preferring to use Philipp Lahm in midfield and Jerome Boateng at right back.
But, if there were fears that they would lack width or support for "false No. 9" Mueller, they were profoundly misplaced.
Germany started with the fluency of a team not playing their first game, but deep into a tournament.
There was no rustiness, no unfamiliarity. They attacked and defended as a unit and Portugal didn't know what to do with them.
By contrast, Portugal's plan of getting the ball to Ronaldo went unrewarded.
The Real Madrid star spurned two early opportunities, smashing one high and wide from 30 metres and driving another into Manuel Neuer from a narrow angle.
There was a fear that Germany had wasted a gift of a chance to take the lead when Sami Khedira smashed wide after goalkeeper Rui Patricio found him with a weak clearance and offering an open goal.
But Portugal weren't finished handing out presents.
After 12 minutes, Portugal gave Germany an even better chance and this time they took it.
Joao Pereira pulled down Mario Goetze in the penalty area and Mueller calmly smashed home the spot-kick.
Pereira was perhaps a little fortunate to avoid a red card.
After half an hour, Mats Hummels doubled the advantage, a powerful header from Toni Kroos' corner.
Both Bruno Alves and Pepe, Portugal's two centre backs, rose to meet the ball, but Hummels was not to be denied.
Portugal had three golden chances to get back into the game.
Nani broke, leaving the Germans exposed for the first time, but his lay-off to Ronaldo was dreadful.
Fabio Coentrao found himself clear, but scuffed his shot. Eder powered a header over the bar from the resultant corner.
And then Portugal aimed at their own feet and fired both barrels.
With 11 men, they would have found it hard. With 10, they had no chance.
Mueller added a third before the break, striking from within the penalty area after Bruno Alves cleared Kroos' fine ball straight to his instep.
Portugal's afternoon worsened further when Coentrao pulled up after the hour with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. With Hugo Almeida removed with a similar problem in the first half, it's hard to see either of them returning in this tournament.
Mazic's refusal to award them what certainly appeared to be a penalty on 75 minutes only added to their woes.
Three minutes later, Mueller completed his hat-trick.
Germany are in their groove. Portugal, for their part, are in deep trouble.
A dramatic improvement is required.
Loew: We stopped Ronaldo and Nani
Germany coach Joachim Loew has many reasons to be happy.
He was just as pleased with his team's defensive effort in shutting out World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo as he was with his forwards in their 4-0 opening World Cup win over Portugal this morning (Singapore time).
"Naturally, it was an excellent first match, we had no option but to win," Loew said.
"The team showed the spirit we expect. We dominated the first half in the midfield with fast through-balls to the strikers. We were clinical in finishing our chances, we had four goals from about six chances."
Loew added that his players did well to keep tabs on Portuguese forwards Ronaldo and Luis Nani in the Group G match.
"The team played well and didn't let Portugal have many chances," he said.
"We played at high pace in the first half to get our chances. It's important to prevent Ronaldo from getting a run going because he's very dangerous then."
Defender Jerome Boateng was assigned to mark Ronaldo.
"Our goal was to disrupt him as soon as he got the ball and Boateng did that very, very well," Loew said.
Loew, who has been warning his players about the need to preserve energy in what he hopes will be a long tournament for Germany, told his team to shift down a gear or two in the second half after taking a 3-0 lead.
"It was a different match in the second half and the aim was to play economically and keep control of the ball," Loew said.
"We knew it was going to be hot and it might be even hotter in the next two matches.
"It's very difficult to run and run under these conditions. It only works when you defend together. We needed everyone to work hard together today and to dig deep to overcome the pain."
Loew said the injury sustained by defender Mats Hummels did not appear to be as severe as it initially appeared.
"He got a blow to the thigh but nothing was torn," said Loew. "I assume it's nothing dramatic."
Germany captain Phillipp Lahm also lauded the collective defensive effort, following concerns about the backline going into the tournament.
"We knew we were ready and everyone worked really hard together," Lahm said.
"Portugal are a super team, ranked fourth in the world. They've always gone far in tournaments in the past and they've got a really good team. But we worked really hard.
"It was incredibly hot on the pitch. It's nice to get a great win like this today but we've still got a long way to go."