SAINT-MALO, France, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- China withstood late pressure to defeat Haiti 2-1 in the latter's first ever FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup match here on Monday.
Zhao Yujie and Shen Mengyu scored in each half to hand China a two-goal advantage, with Haiti captain Nerilia Mondesir scoring her country's first World Cup goal through a penalty.
"It was a typical opening match," China's head coach Peter Bonde told Xinhua.
Around 100 Haiti fans felt at home at the Stade de Marville in their team's historic debut, singing and dancing elatedly. The boisterous support appeared to galvanize their players, as Haiti gained the upper hand in the first ten minutes.
However, China displayed their attacking efficiency shortly afterwards, with former NCAA player Zhao making it 1-0 by heading home strike partner Xie Qiwen's cross at the far post 13 minutes into the match.
Set pieces became a key outlet for Haiti, with an 18th minute free kick saved by Chinese goalkeeper Xu Huan.
Seven minutes later, an unmarked Jin Kun wasted Zhao's high-quality pass, seeing her shot glance just wide off the post.
"Even though we scored a goal quite early in the match, the players didn't feel the calmness and patience in our game. Haiti was pressurizing us a lot, so we could not find our game, but we had a lot of big chances," added Bonde.
China doubled their advantage less than one minute after the interval, when Shen swept home Jin's right wing cross.
Another pass from Jin released Zhang Linyan, who shot over the bar in the 58th minute.
After failing to capitalize on several chances, Haiti were awarded a penalty with 12 minutes to go which Mondesir converted.
The Haiti captain almost leveled the scores shortly afterwards, but after neatly side-stepping Xu, her shot was blocked by captain Wang Linlin on the line.
"We should have closed the game out in the first half. We are a young team and we became nervous, but we deserved the victory," said Bonde, showing his full respect for the tournament's newcomers.
"The Haiti players were playing with their hearts. I have great respect for that. It's always a pleasure to play against a team who loves football like that. They will be a welcome addition to the tournament," he added.
In the other Group D match earlier on Monday, three-time champions Germany edged Nigeria 1-0 thanks to Stefanie Sanders' winner.
China will face Germany in the second round on Thursday.
"We knew that in all three matches that we played at the tournament, we are not the favorites. Now we have a victory, we have scored, perhaps we can be more calm in the next game," Bonde noted.
In Group C, the United States surprisingly lost 1-0 to Japan, while Spain crushed Paraguay 4-1.