Teenager Giulia Gwinn scored on her first competitive appearance for Germany as they made a winning start to their 2019 Women’s World Cup campaign against China.
Ranked second, Germany were frustrated for long parts of the game by the Steel Roses in the Group B match in Rennes.
Yang Li hit the post for China after Germany’s Carolin Simon struck the bar before the only goal of the game.
Midfielder Gwinn, 19, fired home from the edge of the penalty area.
However, Olympic champions Germany were far from their best in front of a crowd of 15,283 at Roazhon Park.
China’s Yang wasted two great chances before Freiburg’s Gwinn scored her second senior international goal.
- Relive the action from Roazhon Park
- Your guide to the Fifa Women’s World Cup
Much to ponder for Voss-Tecklenburg
This was Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s first competitive game in charge of Germany and she will know she has much to do if her side are to repeat their 2003 and 2007 World Cup triumphs following an unconvincing performance in Brittany.
China, 14 places below their opponents in the world rankings, created the better chances and if Yang had been more clinical it could have been a different outcome.
Having made a strong start, Germany were caught when China counter-attacked but Gu Yasha’s pass to Yang ended up in the side-netting.
China’s star player Wang Shuang – nicknamed ‘Lady Messi’ after Barcelona’s highly-decorated men’s forward Lionel Messi – surprisingly started on the bench but the 2015 quarter-finalists coped ably without the Paris Saint-Germain forward.
Yang spurned another glorious chance with a shot which hit a post after another counter-attack as Germany struggled to impose their authority.
Top scorers in Uefa qualifying for the finals, the Germans were heading for a frustrating goalless draw when Gwinn, whose first eight caps had all been in friendlies, punished China for failing to clear a corner.
Germany finished the game with midfielder Lena Oberdorf on the pitch. Aged 17 years 171 days, she is the youngest German player to play at the Women’s World Cup.
Player of the match – Giulia Gwinn (Germany)
‘We are not the same level as Germany’ – what they said
Germany boss Martina Voss-Tecklenburg:“It’s great that Giulia Gwinn got better and better in the match and it’s definitely very important that the young players played this very difficult match.
“Now they have the experience and know what it’s like to play a World Cup match with all the difficulties that brings.
“It’s very good that Gwinn scored the goal, it gave her a lot of confidence and she showed what she’s capable of doing.”
Germany scorer Giulia Gwinn:“It’s obviously special to start the World Cup by scoring a goal like that.
“It will give me a lot of confidence, but the most important thing is to have got the three points.”
China boss Jia Xiuquan:
“We did well in our attacking and defensive work, we just need to keep working on it.
“There was a lot of pressure on our defence, and in our attack we created opportunities. All of this is what we worked on in training and today this was reflected on the pitch.
“We need to do much more. Compared to Germany we are not at the same level, but it does not mean we cannot fight.”
Germany end World Cup goal drought – the stats
- Giulia Gwinn’s goal ended a run of five hours and 11 minutes without a goal for Germany – their worst-ever run without scoring at the Fifa Women’s World Cup.
- This was only China’s second defeat in their opening Women’s World Cup game, although both defeats have come in the last two tournaments.
- Germany have now won seven of their eight opening games at Women’s Wold Cups.
- This was only China’s fourth defeat in 14 meetings with European opposition.
- Germany are joint-highest scorers in Women’s World Cup history on 112 goals, level with United States.
Germany head to Valenciennes where they will face Spain on Wednesday (17:00 BST) while China take on South Africa on Thursday (20:00) in Paris.