Linfield - hoping to win their fifth successive league title - started the 2020 campaign with a victory but were made to work by a stubborn Crusaders side, who held out until late in the second half.
Casey Howe was the Blues hero, breaking the deadlock with 77 minutes on the clock before adding a second ten minutes later.
Crues debutant Hollie Johnston had a great chance in the first half as she ran through on goals but was denied by home goalkeeper Nicole Adams, while Rebecca McKenna and Rebecca Bassett both went close for the Blues.
Spike Hill’s Crusaders continued to have chances, seeing an effort rattle the crossbar on the hour mark with the rebound going just over.
Howe made the difference late on, showing great skill and composure on both occasions to firstly score a goal from the right wing and then from the other flank, to break the Crues resistance.