Spain enjoyed a winning start to their defence of the FIFA World Cup but had to wait until four minutes from time before finally seeing off Georgia, with Roberto Soldado's strike sealing all three points.
Although a first defeat in 21 competitive internationals rarely looked on the cards for Vicente del Bosque's side, the UEFA EURO 2012 winners came close to leaving Tbilisi disappointed until Soldado stroked home substitute Cesc Fàbregas's centre for his fourth goal in six international appearances.
Largely frustrated in their early attempts by a resilient defence, Spain sought alternative methods as they went in search of an opener, which almost arrived in the 28th minute when David Silva found the inside of a post with a shot from outside the area. Xavi Hernández followed suit from a similar distance shortly afterwards, but the FC Barcelona midfielder was also left frustrated when goalkeeper Giorgi Loria acrobatically tipped over.
Spain continued to forge forward and although Del Bosque's side finally worked their way in behind the hosts' defence through Xavi's low, penetrating pass, Soldado's close-range effort was pushed out by Loria, who immediately gathered himself to push Andrés Iniesta's follow-up away from the target.
Lifted by their first-half efforts, Georgia emerged just as determined at the start of the second period and went close to causing an upset when Aleksander Amisulashvili accepted Levan Mchedlidze's lay-off before sending a shot past Iker Casillas and against the base of the upright.
La Roja responded with Pedro Rodríguez and then Santi Cazorla entering the fray, and after local hero Loria was taken off on a stretcher after sustaining an ankle injury, Soldado conjured a winner for the visitors in the 86th minute.
"It was a win that we really worked hard for and against a team who allowed us to have the ball in order to concentrate on defending their own area," said Soldado. "It was frustrating at times as I was always surrounded in our opponents box - there was no space to move. We had very few chances to score, but the important thing is that we did so in the end."