Ellen White came off the bench in the 69th minute and only needed 14 minutes to get England back on track.
White scored in the 83rd minute after a turnover and defending champion England beat Japan 1-0 on Sunday in the SheBelieves Cup at Red Bull Arena.
Fellow second-half substitute Toni Duggan set up the goal, blocking a pass attempt by Shiori Miyake and sending a crossing pass into the box that White slid past goalkeeper Sakiko Ikeda for her 36th international goal.
"It was a great interception by Toni and she put the ball in behind for me,'' said White, who was recently sidelined with a knee injury. "Just as it was coming round to me it was a one-touch finish to get it past the keeper. I have faced her many times and she is a fantastic keeper, so I just tried to keep it low.''
The win was only the third for England since the World Cup (3-4-1) and came days after a 2-0 loss to the United States on Wednesday in Orlando.
"I think what we are doing and the way we are playing, we want to keep doing what we are doing behind the scenes and I think this win gives us a lot of belief in what we are doing,'' White said. "This has given us great confidence.'' White said he has worked hard to get back to the form that helped her score six goals in the World Cup, which tied for the most in the tournament in France.
"Any opportunity I get to play for England is a dream for me,'' the 30-year-old White said. "Any way I can contribute I'll take it with both hands and try my very best.''
The loss was the second straight for Japan, which was beaten by Spain on Wednesday night. Japanese midfielder Yuka Momiki, who was born in New York, said her team needs more work to be ready for the Olympics this summer in Tokyo.
"We are not ready for this game,'' she said. "So we have to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, [be] more powerful, more physical. We have to train more.''
The U.S. and Spain were to play later Sunday. The three-team tournament will end on Wednesday in Frisco, Texas. England will play Spain and the United States will meet Japan.
Both teams had good scoring chances in the well-played game on International Women's Day. Bethany England had several opportunities in the first half, with Ikeda making a sliding save in the 13th minute to prevent England from taking an early lead.
Second-half substitute Riko Ueki was stopped on a curling shot by England goalkeeper Ellie Roebuckest in 70th minute.