CHENGDU, China (AFP) - North Korea gave the United States a wake-up call Tuesday in a 2-2 draw as Japan scored a last gasp equaliser to share the spoils with England in their opening women's World Cup games.
In the night's other match, 2003 runner-ups Sweden drew 1-1 with African champions Nigeria.
The Koreans were 2-1 up with just over 20 minutes to play before two-time champions the United States scrambled an equaliser to ensure they took a point in what is considered the toughest group of the tournament.
Fortunately for them, Sweden also drew their match in Group B, failing for a fifth consecutive time to win their opening game at a World Cup.
The United States and Sweden now face a crunch tie on Friday, with North Korea taking on Nigeria on the same day.
The Americans were early favourites to win their third World Cup title over defending champions Germany but they were clearly rattled by North Korea, who have never reached the knockout stages before.
"I'm very proud of my players especially to come back in the game after giving up two goals when we were a man down, I'm very proud of the way we came back," US coach Greg Ryan said.
Playing in front of a 35,000-strong crowd in drizzling rain, the Koreans dominated the first half, but it was the United States who came out firing in the second period.
Abby Wambach made the breakthrough in the 50th minute, chesting the ball down before firing her shot past 'keeper Jon Myong Hui.
Disaster though struck just minutes later when Wambach left the ground with a cut to her head.
North Korea took advantage with Kil Son Hui launching a thunderous shot that sailed over the head of goalkeeper Hope Solo for the equaliser. Kim Yong Ae smashed a second four minutes later, leaving the US reeling.
But Wambach came back on two minutes later and the tide began to turn with Heather O'Reilly ensuring they shared the points with a 69th minute strike.
North Korean coach Kim Kwang Min said he was "satisfied".
"I think the US team is the best team in the world but today they did not perform to the maximum that they can," he said.
Sweden got their tournament off to a shaky start against Nigeria, also in Chengdu.
Captain Victoria Svensson did the damage for the European powerhouse in the 50th minute, but the Africans never gave up.
Cynthia Uwak, who plies her skills in Europe, made no mistake when Sweden failed to clear in the penalty area with eight minutes to go, firing into the net from close range.
Sweden coach Thomas Dennerby said he was disappointed.
"The first half we played very well, we had plenty of chances to score," hey said. "The first 15 to 20 minutes of the second half we also played very well but there were some problems in the last 15 to 30 minutes."
In a dramatic match in Shanghai, midfielder Kelly Smith scored two goals in the last 10 minutes for what looked like an English victory, only for Japan to spoil their party with just five seconds left.
They had Aya Miyama to thank for salvaging a 2-2 draw, stepping up as the seconds ticked down to smash a free-kick home from 30 metres.
"Obviously we are devastated," said Smith. "We came away with just one point but in my heart I think we deserved three."
The outcome of the match was crucial to deciding who would progress into the next round from Group A alongside Germany, who beat Argentina 11-0 on Monday.
The draw means that the group is still wide open.
|Martinez eyes Everton additions|
|Kompany desperate to stay fit|
|Alves: Comparisons to Guardiola´s Barcelona unfair|
|Bendtner vital for Arsenal - Arteta|
|Parreira: Mandela was ´a god´ to South Africans|
|Colombia Primera A Wrap: Atletico Nacional reach final|
|Alonso the key for Real, says Ancelotti|
|Karanka rejected Mourinho, Chelsea|
|Garde left disappointed by home draw|
|FIFA should reconsider seedings, says Prandelli|
|Mihajlovic given selection headaches|
|Tributes flow for Mandela|
|Matthaus: Germany ´definitely´ World Cup contenders|
|Zidane hails ´monstrous´ Ronaldo|
|Ligue 1: Lyon 1 Toulouse 1|
|Coppa Italia: Sampdoria 4 Verona 1|
|UAE Pro League Wrap: Al Shabab fail to capitalise on Al Ahli slip up|
|No plan B for Sao Paulo stadium - Blatter|
|Premier League Preview: Crystal Palace v Cardiff City|
|Premier League Preview: West Brom v Norwich City|
|Pulis eyes quality over quantity|
|Martino will not rush Messi recovery|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Enyeama closing on record, Nantes face tough test|
|FIFA World Cup winners to pocket $35m|
|Premier League Preview: Southampton v Manchester City|
|Premier League Preview: Stoke City v Chelsea|
|Footballers charged in match-fixing probe|
|Suarez vindicated for staying at Liverpool, says Rodgers|
|Klopp targets ´result machines´ Leverkusen|
|Premier League Preview: Liverpool v West Ham|
|Pardew expects Manchester United reaction|
|Premier League Preview: Sunderland v Tottenham|
|Hamren extends Sweden deal|
|Del Nido sentenced to seven years|
|Bundesliga Preview: Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen|
|Hughton: Norwich must forget Suarez show|
|Tomkins eager to face Liverpool strikeforce|
|Platini talks up sin bin proposal|
|Ronaldo keen to avoid World Cup favourites|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Paris Saint-Germain v Sochaux|
|Premier League Preview: Manchester United v Newcastle United|
|Martino accepts responsibility for Barca defeats|
|Dossena confident ahead of Spurs test|
|Montpellier coach Fernandez resigns|
|Wenger: Too early to dismiss United challenge|
|Mackay hails tireless Campbell|
|Robben ruled out for six weeks with knee injury|
|Berbatov committed to Fulham, claims Meulensteen|
|Villas-Boas lauds Lloris for bouncing back|
|Bundesliga Preview: Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich|
|Golden boy Pogba must keep his head down, says Conte|
|Pellegrini tips Aguero to extend goal glut|
|Landreau proud of Ligue 1 landmark|
|Moyes unsure over Van Persie return|
|Suarez grounded over Liverpool prospects|
|Robben set for scans on knee gash|
|J.League Preview: Hiroshima can still defend title|
|Blanc hails Evian´s ´heart´ after shock PSG loss|
|Copa Sudamericana: Ponte Preta 1 Lanus 1|
|Pruis denies safety concerns for Brazil 2014|
|World Cup stadiums will be ready - Brazil´s sports minister|
|West Brom spirit pleases Clarke|
|Pellegrini enjoys away tonic|
|Coppa Italia Wrap: Inter survive scare to advance|
|Ligue 1 Wrap: PSG suffer shock loss, Landreau makes history|
|Mackay hails ´brave´ Cardiff point|
|Laudrup delighted with Shelvey flexibility|
|Eredivisie Wrap: Heerenveen, Go Ahead leave it late|
|Seedorf tips Brazil to win World Cup|
|Hughton salutes Suarez, slams Norwich defending|
|Rodgers hails ´incredible´ Suarez after four-goal salvo|
|No excuses from frustrated Moyes|
|Pardew has ref rage over Webb after Swansea loss|
|Football League Wrap: Derby go fourth, Wigan lose again|
|Meulensteen bullish after Spurs defeat|
|Poyet: Chelsea will win the title|
|Pochettino bemoans defensive display|
|Lambert hails quality finishing|
|Forest reveal alleged Chalobah abuse|
|Hughes: Stoke need to sharpen up|
|DFB Pokal Wrap: Bayern, Bayer both progress to the quarter-finals|
|Villas-Boas delighted to end winless run|
|Bruce happy to avoid ´embarrassing´ Arsenal loss|
|Martinez proud as Everton end hoodoo|
|Wenger hails Bendtner quality|
|Mourinho marvels at Hazard showing|
|Eredivisie Preview: Vitesse, Ajax look to extend unbeaten runs|
|Premier League: West Brom 2 Manchester City 3|
|Ligue 1: Evian 2 Paris Saint-Germain 0|
|Premier League: Fulham 1 Tottenham 2|
|Premier League: Manchester United 0 Everton 1|
|Premier League: Southampton 2 Aston Villa 3|
|Premier League: Swansea City 3 Newcastle United 0|
|Premier League: Liverpool 5 Norwich City 1|
|Premier League: Stoke City 0 Cardiff City 0|
|Premier League: Sunderland 3 Chelsea 4|
|Rakitic wary of Sevilla away-day slump|
|Garcia hails Totti as ´one of the best´|
|Reina would welcome Barcelona return|
|Garde calls for Lyon to become more mature|
|Pique rejects crisis talk|
|Kramer keen for Monchengladbach to maintain focus|
|Ince blasts ill-disciplined Blackpool|
|Delph loving life under Lambert|
|Courtois seeks Chelsea talks over future|
|Valbuena out for up to six weeks|
|Iraola signs new Athletic deal|
|Berbatov keen on Fulham exit|
|Borini up for Chelsea test|
|Rodgers asks Spanish pair to lift Liverpool|
|Inverness appoint Hughes|
|Jaaskelainen annoyed with Palace loss|
|Klopp hails Dortmund display|
|Pulis tips Chamakh to shine|
|Walker fired up for Fulham trip|
|Enyeama lauds collective Lille effort|
|Copa del Rey Preview: Atletico open against Sant Andreu, Barcelona face Cartagena|
|Serie A Preview: Bologna v Juventus|
|Di Natale needs more help, says Guidolin|
|Prandelli: Totti retirement backflip possible|
|Points all that matter, says Lille president Seydoux|
|Ranieri harbours no hopes of Monaco catching PSG|
|Liga MX Preview: Herrera´s America out to break winless run in semi-finals|
|West Ham ´hard done by´ after goal disallowed|
|´Brazuca´ revealed as the official World Cup ball|
|Garde puts heat on Lyon to respond to PSG pummelling|
|Blatter backs Brazil to be ready|
|Stranded Belounis furious with FIFA inaction|
|Championship Wrap: Wednesday stun Leicester as Yeovil, Barnsley also win|
|A-League Preview: Styles collide as Adelaide host Brisbane|