MONTPELLIER — It was the start Canada wanted and one they’ve never had in a World Cup not hosted.
Kadeisha Buchanan scored in the 45th minute to give Canada a 1-0 win over Cameroon in its opening game of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in front of 10,710 at the Stade de la Mosson on Monday.
It’s the first time Canada has won its opening match of the tournament in a foreign country, and it puts them into an early lead in Group E.
New Zealand and the Netherlands, the other two teams in the group, open Tuesday in Le Havre.
Buchanan scored in the dying stages of the first half after a mistake by a Cameroon defender put goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom under pressure from Canada striker Nichelle Prince, who was able to win a corner.
Janine Beckie loft the corner to the far post where Buchanan rose above everyone and headed the ball down and into the net. It was the fourth international goal for Buchanan, three that have come on headers.
Cameroon made their intentions clear starting the game with five defenders and a midfielder playing just in front of their back line.
Cameroon’s game plan was to defend en masse to try to hit Canada on the counterattack with speedsters Ajara Nchout and Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene taking turns playing up top.
To their credit, Canada was patient and careful not to get caught. After they shook off the nerves in the first 10 minutes they began to take control of the game and it would have helped settle the team down had Beckie been able to bend a shot from the top of the penalty inside the post.
Canada had 69% of the possession in the half and came close on a couple of occasions, utilizing balls over the top of the five-player wall Cameroon had imposed.
Allysha Chapman, who had a strong half winning balls back from speedy Cameroon forwards, started an attacking sending a long diagonal ball from her left back spot, which Beckie was able to run down. She sent a cross into Prince, who was unable to keep her volley below the crossbar.
Also in the half, Christine Sinclair just missed getting a toe to a long ball over the top by Ashley Lawrence and poking it past Ngo Ndom.
In the second half, Canada looked a more relaxed group and began to take control of the contest keeping possession in an effort to break down Cameroon again.
Up a goal, there was less urgency in Canada’s play, but it forced Cameroon to venture forward, something they rarely did in the first half.
Cameroon did come close off a corner with just over 25 minutes to play as Claudine Meffometou was able to get to a corner at the back post, but unlike Buchanan, was unable to get her header on target, bouncing it just wide.
It was an on the opportunity that refocused Canada and they were able to play out the game comfortably without any more serious threats from Cameroon.
Canada plays New Zealand in their second group game Saturday in Grenoble.
On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest
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