WUHAN, China (AFP) - China signalled its World Cup intent with a fighting 3-2 victory over tricky European side Denmark as former champions Norway came from behind to beat Canada 2-1 on Wednesday.
China's group D rival Brazil, meanwhile, lashed footballing minnows New Zealand 5-0 in a resounding display of skills, while Australia snapped a 12-year winless World Cup streak by beating Ghana 4-1 in group C.
Substitute Song Xiaoli came to China's rescue, pouncing in the 88th minute with a amazing long-range strike to foil the Danish comeback plans after veteran Cathrine Paaske's equalised to level at 2-2 only seconds earlier.
"Nobody ever gave up," captain Li Jie said immediately after the game.
A hard-running China once again showed that determination and speed sometimes matter more than physique and technique.
In front of a near-capacity home crowd at the 52,000-seat Wuhan Sports Centre Stadium, they struck first when Li capitalised on a Danish foul to put her team 1-0 up in the 31st minute.
Bi Yan made it 2-0 19 minutes later. Denmark fought back but it was Song who stole the honours to earn China three points.
China's Swedish coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors said it was testament to China's attitude that they gave it there all.
"You have to play 100 percent to win such a game, and it's also an opening game so it was very important," she said.
Norway, ranked four and who won the trophy in 1995, had captain Ane Stangeland Horpestad to thank in Hangzhou after she struck a late winner that leaves them behind Australia on goal difference in their group.
The Norwegians, among the favourites to win the fifth World Cup, fell behind after 33 minutes when Christine Sinclair crashed through two defenders before laying off a superb ball to Candace Chapman who unleashed a bullet that hit the roof of the net.
But after that Canada were back-pedalling.
Norway found the target in the 52nd minute when Ragnhild Gulbrandsen rose to meet a cross. That inspired the Norwegians, and Horpestad pounced on a loose ball to gift them victory in the final 10 minutes.
"I think it was only the second goal I have ever scored for my country, but it was an important one," said a delighted Horpestad.
Daniela Alves, Cristiane, Marta and Renata Costa all found the back of the net for Brazil who outgunned an inexperienced New Zealand.
The Brazilians put on a virtuoso show and the score could have been much higher, serving a warning to group rivals China and Denmark.
Midfielder Daniela, 23, got things going in the 10th minute and Cristiane made it 2-0 soon after the break.
Daniela, who made her international debut at the tender age of 15, then flicked the ball to 2006 player of the year Marta who weaved up the left before smashing a drive into the net.
Marta added another in the dying minutes to bring her international goal tally to an astonishing 42 in 40 games.
"All of our goals today were magnificent; we had not only long shots, but good movement. All of our players played very well," Brazil coach Jorge Barcelos said.
While Australia is not seen as a title contender, they created their own slice of history by scoring their first World Cup win in 10 attempts, ending a 12-year drought with an emphatic victory over Ghana in Hangzhou.
Striker Sarah Walsh opened their account after 15 minutes.
After the break superior pace and fitness paid off with two goals from substitute Lisa De Vanna (57 and 81) and another from Heather Garriock.
"It certainly eased the pressure on the team. I think it will boost our confidence," said Australia's Scottish-born coach Tom Sermanni.
|Robben out of Gladbach clash with ´minor´ calf strain|
|Pochettino pleased to see Rose emotion|
|Mourinho factor makes Man Utd a title threat, says Lampard|
|Chelsea´s best chance of success is Champions League, claims Lampard|
|Robben: It could be over for me after this season|
|Newcastle Jets 4 Melbourne Victory 1: Nabbout at the double|
|Happy Sanchez could win the Premier League for Arsenal, Lauren claims|
|Angered Neymar storms away from Real Madrid questions|
|Bayern played their worst ´for a long time´ - Boateng|
|Neymar form no surprise for Alves|
|Federer congratulates Basel after Man Utd scalp|
|Gremio 1 Lanus 0: Cicero gives Brazilians advantage in Libertadores final|
|Hazard: I admire Madrid, but I´m happy at Chelsea|
|Neuer or De Gea? Digne says Ter Stegen is world´s best keeper|
|Allegri satisfied with draw against ´extraordinary´ Barcelona|
|Nainggolan reaffirms Roma commitment after Simeone praise|
|Simeone hails Griezmann´s ´extraordinary´ volley|
|Emery hails Neymar after stunning Celtic win|
|Championship Review: Wolves thrash 10-man Leeds, Middlesbrough cruise|
|Goncharenko delighted for clean sheet star Akinfeev|
|I hope Barcelona rest Messi – Jesus|
|Thiago suffered a serious injury, says Heynckes|
|Valverde explains decision to bench Messi|
|Iniesta hails ´splendid´ Ter Stegen as Barcelona seal last-16 spot|
|Griezmann shrugs off goalless streak after wonderstrike keeps Atletico´s hopes alive|
|We should have been 5-0 up – Mourinho unimpressed with wasteful United|
|Toure reveals Guardiola anger with City´s Feyenoord display|
|Paris Saint-Germain set Champions League scoring record in Celtic rout|
|Sporting CP 3 Olympiacos 1: Dost on target as hosts stay in contention|
|Bielsa suspended by struggling Lille|
|Anderlecht 1 Bayern Munich 2: Lewandowski and Tolisso give visitors win|
|Atletico Madrid 2 Roma 0: Griezmann returns to form with wondergoal|
|Basel 1 Manchester United 0: Late Lang goal leaves Mourinho´s men with work to do|
|Paris Saint-Germain 7 Celtic 1: Cavani and Neymar score braces in sparkling win|
|Juventus 0 Barcelona 0: Messi benched but Valverde´s men in last 16|
|Conte pleased to take pressure off Atletico clash|
|Success in Europe will help Milan´s league form, Montella claims|
|Bauza sacked by Saudi Arabia|
|Willian: For me, it was a penalty|
|Akinfeev keeps first Champions League clean sheet since November 2006|
|Messi rested by Barcelona side for Juventus clash|
|CSKA Moscow 2 Benfica 0: Goncharenko´s men boost progression hopes|
|Qarabag 0 Chelsea 4: Hazard, Willian lead Blues into last 16|
|If he´s fit, he will go – Wenger backs Welbeck for World Cup call|
|Niasse banned over diving charge after FA rejects Everton appeal|
|Real Madrid´s Carvajal faces UEFA investigation over APOEL booking|
|Everton fined €30,000 over fan trouble against Lyon|
|No change in Everton manager hunt, says Unsworth|
|Chiellini to miss Barcelona match with thigh injury|
|Former Everton and Nigeria striker Yakubu retires|
|Liverpool looking into claims of Seville police assault against fans|
|Toure hails Foden as the ´future´ of Manchester City|
|Record Ronaldo nomination as Real Madrid dominate UEFA Team of the Year candidates|
|Heynckes stay is ´best solution´ for Bayern, says Robben|
|Courtois parks Chelsea contract talks|
|Wigan´s two-goal Colclough makes mad dash to witness birth of son...in full kit!|
|Sevilla boss Berizzo diagnosed with prostate cancer|
|Manchester United move still a possibility for Atletico star Griezmann|
|Carragher slams Liverpool for playing ´like children´ in Sevilla collapse|
|Replacing you might not be a great idea! – Buffon grateful for Rakitic tribute|
|Messi closes on century but Pogba must do more – Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Skoko wants Australian coach as Arnold emerges as Postecoglou replacement|
|Everton yet to make contact with Van Gaal|
|MLS Review: Sounders a step closer to final, Crew and Toronto in stalemate|
|Ben Yedder trolls Liverpool after dramatic Sevilla comeback|
|´World class´ Insigne can´t be rested – Sarri|
|I say one thing and you write something else - Angry Ronaldo brushes off media|
|Griezmann needs support of Atletico and fans – Simeone|
|Monaco paid for mistakes in Champions League exit - Jardim|
|We had to rely on personal pride - Berizzo praises Sevilla´s stunning comeback|
|Championship Review: Coleman loses first Sunderland game, Fulham win nine-goal thriller|
|City fans get first sight of local star they crave in Phil Foden|
|Gunes wants more after historic Besiktas Champions League qualification|
|Allegri plays down Dybala-Messi comparisons|
|Extra rest helped Rose shine in Dortmund – Pochettino|
|Zidane: We knew Ronaldo, Benzema goals would come|
|It feels like we lost - Klopp frustrated at Liverpool´s second-half collapse|
|It depends on Foden - Guardiola puts ball in teenager´s court|
|Postecoglou leaves Australia post|
|Ronaldo overtakes Messi in Champions League goalscoring race|
|Manchester City 1 Feyenoord 0: Sterling strikes late as top spot is clinched|
|Sevilla 3 Liverpool 3: Klopp´s side fail to survive Spanish inquisition|
|Borussia Dortmund 1 Tottenham 2: Son grabs winner as Spurs seal top spot|
|Napoli 3 Shakhtar Donetsk 0: Insigne stunner helps keep knockout hopes alive|
|APOEL 0 Real Madrid 6: Record-breaking Ronaldo and Benzema send holders through in style|
|Monaco 1 RB Leipzig 4: Werner brace dumps Ligue 1 champions out|
|Ronaldo breaks record for Champions League goals in a calendar year|
|I wanted to cry with Buffon - Rakitic sympathy for Italy great|
|Defiant Smalling responds to ´surprise´ England omission|
|Neuer ´on schedule´ but Heynckes won´t rush Bayern star|
|Messi contract saga not swaying Barcelona boss Valverde|
|Spartak Moscow 1 Maribor 1: Stoppage-time equaliser gives Russians everything to do at Anfield|
|Besiktas 1 Porto 1: Talisca leveller sends hosts through|
|Mkhitaryan questions leave Mourinho riled|
|Jones out of Basel, Brighton games but Mourinho hopeful on Bailly|
|Conte unhappy with Chelsea´s fixture congestion|
|Pepe tells Ronaldo: Come to Besiktas!|
|Clement expects Abraham to shake off back injury for Bournemouth clash|
|Oddo replaces sacked Del Neri at Udinese|
|Bartomeu hints at January Barcelona signings|
|Emery defends ´responsible´ Neymar from lifestyle criticism|
|Del Neri sacked by Udinese|
|Everton striker Niasse facing two-match ban after FA diving charge|
|Lampard excited by English clubs in Champions League|
|Thiago and Coman back for Bayern´s trip to Anderlecht|
|Dybala hails Messi as ´our Maradona´, wants to play with Neymar|
|Sherwood talks up Spurs as potential Champions League winners|
|Borussia Dortmund on the brink as Real Madrid eye progress - Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Hughton hopeful on video assistance after Brighton denied penalty|
|Klopp staying calm over Salah form|
|Griezmann: I don´t regret staying at Atletico|
|Guardiola dismisses Champions League favourites tag|