Albufeira (Portugal), March 2 (IANS) The Netherlands defeated China 1-0 in their opening match at the 2017 Algarve Cup women's football tournament here.
Renate Jansen scored the only goal of the match for the Netherlands 12 minutes into Wednesday's game with a low shot from the left that went past Chinese goalkeeper Zhao Lina.
The Netherlands could have won by a bigger margin as three shots either hit the bar or the post.
It was pretty tough for the 13th-ranked Chinese during the Group C clash in their 21st appearance at this tournament, as they will face three opponents all higher than them on the FIFA world rankings.
"We played quite bad in the first 25 minutes," admitted Bruno Bini, the Chinese team's head coach.
China got their best chance in the 14th minute but Zhang Rui's shot was blocked by Holland goalkeeper Angela Christ.
China made a substitution early in the second half with forward Wang Shanshan replacing Tang Jiali.
Chinese strikers Wang Shanshan and Wang Shuang created a few chances but could not find the back of the net.
"We did better in the second half, but it was a pity that we did a poor job in putting the ball into the goal," said Bruno, adding that his side was punished for their poor performance in the early stages of the game.
Two years after their clash with China at the World Cup in Canada, the Netherlands' head coach Sarina Wiegman still remembered Wang Shanshan well.
"I don't know her name exactly, the No.11. She also played against us at World Cup. She's a very good player," Wiegman said after the game.
"After we scored early in the first half, we could control the game. We put more pressure on China after the restart, but they also could get more space, and they used the space better than we did."
China will face World No.8 Sweden, who downed Australia 1-0 with Lotta Schelin's 60th-minute goal, in Santo Antonio on Friday.
In another match on Wednesday evening, defending champions Canada defeated Denmark 1-0 in their campaign opener.
Sinclair became the hero for Canada with her lone goal in the 90th minute, earning the reigning champions a good start in the 2017 edition.
The other Group A matchup was also decided in the closing stages as Russia defeated hosts Portugal 1-0 thanks to Olesya Mashina's goal in the 86th minute.
Spain sat atop Group B after shocking 2011 World Champions Japan 2-1. Meanwhile, three-time winners Norway were held 1-1 by Iceland.