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Soccer-Gemany's Mueller grabs rare World Cup hat-trick


SALVADOR, Brazil, June 16 (Reuters) - Germany's Thomas Mueller grabbed only the second hat-trick of the last three World Cups with a treble against Portugal on Monday as they made a rampant start to their Group G campaign.

Three goals for the striker, winning his 50th cap, also put him out in front in the race for the tournament's top scorer award, which he won four years ago in South Africa with five.

It is the 49th hat-trick in World Cup finals history and takes Mueller's goal tally for his country to 20.

The last World Cup hat-trick was scored by Gonzalo Higuain of Argentina against South Korea in 2010. Before that, Pauleta of Portugal notched a treble against Poland in the 2002 finals.

Karim Benzema came close to three goals for France on Sunday, scoring twice and seeing a shot come off the post before hitting the Honduras goalkeeper to go in for an own goal. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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