Muller: I didn't provoke Pepe's red card

The Germany striker, who struck a hat-trick in the demolition of Portugal, was also involved in the incident that saw the defender dismissed, but insists he wasn't at fault
By Paul Macdonald in Brazil

Germany striker Thomas Muller insists he did not attempt to provoke the referee into sending off Portugal defender Pepe during his side's 4-0 victory in Monday's World Cup clash in Salvador.

The Bayern Munich attacker was in scintillating form, striking a ruthless hat-trick to humble Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. and put his side in pole position to qualify from Group G.

But Muller was involved in an unsavoury incident with Pepe, during which the German went down under a flailing arm from the Real Madrid defender, then the pair appeared to clash heads.

The referee immediately showed Pepe the red card but Muller says his involvement was innocent enough, stating: "I would like to see a replay on TV. I hope that it looked okay from my side. I sensed being hit with a fist and it really happened.

"What happened after that I cannot tell exactly. I hope it did not look stupid. I did not want to provoke anything but I don't know 100 per cent how I fared in this situation."

Muller also expressed his delight at his opening-round treble and is happy to bear the team's penalty responsibilities throughout the event.

He continued: "Three goals in an opening match against such a strong opponent are something beautiful. One beauty after another.

"I have already made my mark in the world of football in the past four years. I am not a guy who gets scared."

Muller, like many of his German team-mates, also made reference to the stifling conditions in Salvador, adding:  "You look up after 20 minutes and think 'Oops, that's a long match today'.

"In the full sun it was extremely difficult, especially without the ball. But we sat back a little bit deeper and then went for the counter. We could have scored more with the chances we had."