Spain beat plucky Ireland 2-0 in an international friendly at Yankee Stadium in New York late on Tuesday night.
The world and European champions took their time clicking into gear, with Giovanni Trapattoni’s fighting Irish doing their utmost to knock La Furia Roja off their stride.
Ireland enjoyed moments of good attacking play, and also had a goal disallowed for offside, but once Spain discovered their rhythm and neat attacking patterns, the game developed a distinctly Iberian feel.
On the field as a second-half replacement for blank drawing Barcelona striker David Villa, Roberto Soldado broke the deadlock in the 69th minute with an angled finish.
Chelsea star Juan Mata put the result beyond doubt two minutes from time, scoring neatly after a deft through-ball by Arsenal ace Santi Cazorla.
It was not the convincing display Spain wanted ahead of the Confederations Cup in Brazil, and Ireland will be most pleased at having improved significantly since their previous 4-0 drubbing by the world’s top-ranked team.
But Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque saw enough to convince him that his team is on the right path towards defending their world title in Brazil next year.
"Overall I think we showed a good level, we had a lot of possession especially in the first half," Del Bosque told reporters after the game.
"Maybe we lacked a little bit in the last pass, but overall we had good control of the ball, we controlled their attacks and their counter-attacks as well.
"We played a good game, we probably could have won by one more goal."