Fran Kirby and Karen Carney fired England to a 2-1 win over Mexico as Mark Sampson’s side claimed their first points in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Kirby opened the scoring with a neat flick before substitute Carney added the second but England had an anxious last few minutes after Mexico pulled a goal back in the first minute of injury time.
England started with intent but Mexico forged the first opportunity of the game through Veronica Perez, whose early effort failed to trouble Karen Bardsley.
Bardsley’s intervention was required in the 18th minute when she was forced to gather a miscued effort from Monica Ocampo which dipped viciously.
But England grew into the game and a trademark surging run from Lucy Bronze resulted in their first chance. Bronze slipped it to Jill Scott who laid it off to Kirby but the Reading striker was denied by a diving save from Cecilia Santiago.
England had a penalty appeal turned down after Toni Duggan’s acrobatic volley appeared to strike the arm of a Mexican defender following a jinking run from Eni Aluko.
Duggan and Jade Moore then both had goal-bound efforts saved by Santiago before Fara Williams attempted an audacious 40-yarder which drifted inches over the Mexican goal.
England almost went to the interval in front when Eni Aluko unleashed a vicious swerving effort from the left edge of the area which rattled off the top of the crossbar.
Kirby had an effort at goal in the opening seconds of the second half but moments later England almost fell behind. Bardsley’s panicked clearance rebounded off Laura Bassett and into the path of Renae Cuellar but the England goalkeeper recovered to make a vital point-blank save.
But England continued to apply the pressure and an injury to Clare Rafferty proved to be the turning point of the game as it resulted in the introduction of Alex Greenwood.
Greenwood’s first contribution came moments after coming on, crossing for Aluko who forced a low fingertip save from Santiago. The Notts County full-back then shot directly from a free kick but it was straight at Santiago who caught the ball comfortably.
Carney replaced Scott and the Birmingham midfielder was instrumental in England’s opener on 70 minutes. She squared for Duggan and the ball ricocheted into the path of Kirby who poked the ball home off the left post to open England’s World Cup account.
And 12 minutes later England looked to have sealed the game when Greenwood’s pin-point cross was headed in by Carney from close-range.
Stephany Robles and Kenti Mayor both had efforts at goal in the closing stages before Mexico pulled a goal back in the first minute of added time. Mexico broke from an England corner and Charlyn Corral’s shot was spilled by Bardsley into the path of Fabiola Ibarra who poked home.
But it proved to too little too late as England hung on for the win which puts them second in Group F ahead of their clash with leaders Colombia on Wednesday following their stunning 2-0 upset against France earlier in the day.
Faye White's England Player Ratings: Bardsley 6: Bronze 7, Bassett 7, Houghton 7, Rafferty 7; Moore 7, J Scott 7, Williams 8; Kirby 7, Aluko 7, Kirby 9. Subs: Greenwood 8, Carney 8, A Scott 7.