South Africa ended Spain's six-game unbeaten run as Bernard Parker's second-half goal earned the hosts a prestigious victory in Johannesburg.
Returning to the scene of their 2010 FIFA World Cup final triumph over the Netherlands, La Roja boasted ten members of the squad that competed at those finals in their lineup for this friendly international. However, second best for large chunks of the encounter, Vicente del Bosque's side succumbed to Parker's 56th-minute chip over Víctor Valdés to suffer their first reverse since the 3-0 FIFA Confederations Cup final defeat by Brazil in June.
Oupa Manyisa had set the tone for Gordon Igesund's team in the opening half with a shot from distance that struck defender Sergio Ramos before bouncing off the top of the upright. Parker then tried his range with Iker Casillas – who started for the visitors – equal to the forward's effort.
Spain had prevailed 2-1 in Equatorial Guinea on Saturday but here they were severely tested by a pacey South African side who almost took the lead before the break when Bongani Khumalo flashed a header narrowly wide of the target.
With the hosts maintaining their intensity after half-time, they were rewarded when Thabo Matlaba centred for Kamohelo Mokotjo whose low ball found Parker. Advancing on Valdés, the Kaizer Chiefs FC attacker's chip caught Valdés before dropping in for 1-0.
Spain rallied with efforts from Andrés Iniesta and Álvaro Negredo which failed to find the net. At the other end, Pepe Reina – on for the injured Valdés – rescued his team with a save from Manyisa. Substitute Raúl Albiol then had a chance to snatch a draw at the death, yet the defender's close-range attempt was parried by keeper Itumeleng Khune to spark wild celebrations inside Soccer City Stadium.