David Villa earned European champions Spain a 1-0 victory over Bosnia in their opening 2010 World Cup qualifier in Group Five on Saturday.
The Valencia striker missed a first-half penalty but made amends early in the second half when he rounded the goalkeeper to score from Cesc Fabregas's pass.
Bosnia had made life difficult for the home side up to that point but were vulnerable once they had to chase the game and their hosts always looked more likely to add to the score.
The victory gave new Spain coach Vicente del Bosque a win on his competitive debut, having replaced Luis Aragones after the victorious Euro 2008 campaign.
"I'm happy for the three points and because we improved in the second half," Del Bosque told Spanish state television.
"We found it hard to make the most of the few spaces they gave us but we worked hard and I think tiredness on their part allowed us to make the breakthrough."
Spain's trademark possession game ran into a Bosnian brick wall in the first half, with their neat passing game disrupted in a crowded midfield.
Their first real sight of goal came after 26 minutes when Xavi burst into the area to head straight at Kenen Hasagic, and a minute later Marcos Senna rattled the crossbar with a fierce 25-metre drive.
The visitors continued to hold firm until Samir Muratovic brought down the busy Diego Capel in the area, as Spain worked a a free kick move.
Villa, top scorer at Euro 2008, stepped up to the mark but put his shot wide of Hasagic's right-hand post.
Miroslav Blazevic's men raced forward with pace when Spain's attacks broke down and just before the break Edin Dzeko burst through in a one-on-one with Iker Casillas.
However, the Wolfsburg forward looked for a team mate inside instead of shooting and the chance went begging.
Spain picked up the pace after the interval with Andres Iniesta stinging Hasagic's hands with a low drive, and in the 57th minute Fabregas sent Villa clear into the area.
Villa went round the keeper and looked to have taken the ball too far but fired into the net from the tightest of angles.
The goal settled the home side and only the saves of Hasagic prevented Spain from doubling their lead as they created a string of openings near the end.