Fuka Nagano struck the winner as Japan women edged past South Korea 2-1 in their East Asian Football Federation E-1 Championship opener on Tuesday.
The recent North Carolina Courage signing steered low into the net in the 65th minute for her first international goal after forward Riko Ueki wriggled her way through down the right flank and provided a cutback at Kashima Stadium.
"I wanted one, so it was positive to get it," said Nagano, who has been wearing the No. 10 shirt since June after Arsenal's Mana Iwabuchi had surgery on both her ankles a month earlier.
"I need to leave a mark, but I hope to play without forgetting the basics of enjoying the game."
Hinata Miyazawa handed Japan the lead in the 33rd minute after Rui Narumiya capitalized on a South Korean defensive mixup inside the box.
Ji So Yun's low effort saw South Korea equalize in the second half only for Nagano to score six minutes later.
Japan will face Taiwan on Saturday and China next Tuesday in the four-team round-robin tournament.