Captain Aya Miyama converted from the penalty spot as holders Japan made a winning start at the FIFA Women's World Cup ©Getty Images

Japan began the defence of their FIFA Women’s World Cup title with a narrow 1-0 victory against tournament debutants Switzerland at the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.

Captain Aya Miyama successfully converted a 29th minute penalty to earn all three points for the holders after Gaelle Thalmann had brought down Kozue Ando in the box.

Their European opponents pushed them all the way though and came close to equalising on the stroke of half-time as Ramona Bachmann’s drive went just wide of the mark.

Yuika Sugasawa nearly doubled Japan’s lead when she shot against the post, but it ultimately did not matter as her team held on for all three points.

Elsewhere in Group C, Cameroon hit Ecuador for six without reply, inspired by a Gaelle Enganamouit hat-trick.

Madeleine Ngono Mani’s opener and a Christine Manie penalty came either side of Enganamouit’s first to give the African nation a 3-0 lead at half-time.

Enganamouit then bagged her second in 73rd minute before Gabrielle Onguene scored from the spot, and the rout was complete when Enganamouit slotted home another penalty in stoppage time.

The United States beat Australia 3-1 in Group D
The United States beat Australia 3-1 in Group D ©Getty Images

Meanwhile in Group D, 2011 runners-up the United States got off to a winning start by overcoming Australia 3-1 at the Winnipeg Stadium.

Megan Rapinoe broke the deadlock in the 12th minute only to see Australia’s Lisa de Vanna cancel it out before half-time, but goals from Christen Press and a second from Rapinoe after the restart sealed the win.  

There was a six-goal thriller in the other Group D encounter as Sweden, third-place finishers in 2011, drew 3-3 with Nigeria.

A Desire Oparanozie own goal followed by Nilla Fischer’s tap-in looked to have set Sweden on their way to victory but Nigeria came out fighting after the break and soon found themselves back on level terms thanks to goals from Ngozi Okobi and Asisat Oshoala.

Linda Sembrant restored Sweden’s lead on the hour mark before Francisca Ordega ensured a point for Nigeria with an 87th minute equaliser.

Tomorrow's action sees Spain go up against Costa Rica and Brazil face South Korea in Group E, while France play England and Colombia meet Mexico in Group F.

Related stories
June 2015: Germany thrash Ivory Coast 10-0 as bid to regain Women's World Cup begins
June 2015: All is not as rosy as it seems in the world of women's football ahead of World Cup
June 2015: Sinclair strikes late to hand hosts opening day victory at Women's World Cup
June 2015: FIFA Women's World Cup to get underway amid turbulent period for football
December 2014: Prize money for FIFA Women's World Cup winners to double at Canada 2015