Despite scoring the first goal, the China women's football team lost 2-1 to Portugal in the 25th Algarve Cup's opening game in an away disappointment.
It was tough for China throughout the game, although no goal was scored in the first half. "We didn't start sharp," Sigurdur Ragnar Eyjolfsson, China head coach, said after the defeat.
But it was midfielder Xu Yanlu's powerful shot in the 57th minute within the penalty area that moved China ahead of the home team - but only briefly.
Three minutes later, Portugese forward Carolina Mendes drew the game with a header, which was "easy to prevent", accroding to Eyjolfsson.
Both teams had good opportunities later in the game, with Portugal having an advantage as they mostly controled the midfield with better possession of the ball. One of their shots struck the crossbar.
After spending much energy on defense, the Chinese ladies took a hit when their striker Li Ying was dismissed from the field with a red card.
The Chinese team then lost a score toward the end of the game with goal keeper Lu Feifei making a mistake. Faced with a Portuguese free kick from a little over the midline, she was standing a bit further from the goal but was unable to catch the ball, which was not fast but just somewhat higher than she could jump and save.
That was not typical of Lu, Eyjolfsson said, adding that the performance of the Chinese team was "not very typical of what I'm used to seeing from the players."
Eyjolfsson admitted that the loss was a disappointment but said he would try cheer the team up for later games, which would feature China against stronger and better-ranked teams of Norway and then Australia.
Prior to the game, China ranked No. 16 and Portugal ranked No. 38 in the women's FIFA world ranking.
Francisco Neto, head coach of Portugal, was satisfied with the game saying "starting the Algarve Cup with a win is good, playing well is even better."
He said the team was superior in many moments of the game, only with some ineffectiveness in the final minutes.
The Algarve Cup is a global invitational tournament for women's football. Held annually in the Algarve region of southern Portugal since 1994, it is one of the most prestigious women's football events. This year's edition will conclude on March 7.
In the other game of Group A, world No.4 Australia beat Norway with a 94-minute kick after squandering a commanding lead, ultimately winning 4-3 in dreadful conditions.
After falling behind in the 11th minute, Australia went to a strong 3-1 lead, before the Scandinavians came roaring back after half-time.
With both sides tired, chances became harder to come by, but just as a draw appeared certain, defender Claire Polkinghorne stepped up in the 94th minute to prod the ball over the goal line and become an unlikely hero in an improbable Australian win.
In Group B, South Korea got their 2018 Algarve Cup campaign off to a roaring start after defeating Russia 3-1. The Russians just couldn't contain the vibrant South Koreans. In the other game, Canada lost to Sweden in 1-3.
In Group C, Japan was crushed 2-6 by Netherlands. The Netherlands, already 5-1 ahead halfway through the game, were apparently too strong for Japan, who are preparing to defend their Asian Cup title in Jordan in April.
Two goals within the first eight minutes by the Netherlands rocked Japan, who couldn't mount a fightback as European champions dominated the game. In other action, Denmark and Iceland drew 0-0.