A stoppage-time penalty kick from Christine Sinclair gave the Canadians the victory and three points to get off to a good start in Group A.
"I'm really proud that Canada can come out and dominate a game, in terms of possession, and sneak a win," said Canada manager John Herdman. "That's what we wanted. The three points were the most important part."
Late in the game, Canada changed its formation to a 4-3-3 in order to apply more pressure and push for the game-winning goal - a move that eventually paid off when Adriana Leon was taken down in the box by China's Rong Zhao and was awarded the penalty kick in the closing minutes of the contest. Despite struggling at times in the first half, Canada was able to pull things together and control the game for the majority of the contest, getting many opportunities to get on the board but failing to capitalize until Sinclair's penalty.
After going 0-3 in the 2011 World Cup, the hosts were relieved to get this tournament started on the right foot.
"I'm really happy with how the girls attacked. It was coming in waves where we'd have an energy burst and then it'd fade and we'd have another burst," Herdman said. "We were playing against a well-organized defensive unit. The Chinese came for a draw, they were actually killing time in the first 20 minutes of the game, and I was really proud of what we were able to pull out there."
Buchanan and Lawrence led a group of talented young players on the Canada roster to make a big impact in the game. Herdman's team played four players who were just 22 years old or younger.
"Let's give some credit to someone like Ashley Lawrence, who went through the full 90-plus minutes," Herdman said. "She was box-to-box all game and looked like she's someone who has a lot more to come. Our youth movement was good today, but we don't look at them like that. They're here to win a World Cup for Canada and that's part of the job. There are no excuses. If they're good enough, they're old enough."
Kadeisha Buchanan: 8/10
As expected, Buchanan was the strongest player in a Canada defense that was very shaky at times in Saturday's win. The Mountaineer defender asserted herself as the best player on the pitch in the opening game, looking extremely comfortable on the back line and moving up into the attack to help the team find opportunities to score. She almost scored early in the match, as two shots were stopped by the Chinese keeper in the game's third minute. Overall this was the start that many expected to see from Buchanan, who is one of the most exciting young players to watch in this year's World Cup.
Ashley Lawrence: 5.5/10
While it appeared that Buchanan didn't miss a beat playing on the biggest stage in soccer, it looked like it took some time for Lawrence to settle in during her second start with the Canadian full national team. The midfielder did bounce back and put together a strong second half for the Canadians, helping the side control possession in the midfield and limiting her mistakes during the final 45 minutes.