Mario Gaspar scored a stunning acrobatic volley as Spain ended England’s 15-match unbeaten run in merciless fashion in Alicante.
Despite having his back to goal, the Spain right-back managed to beat Joe Hart with a flying volley from Cesc Fabregas’ pass.
It was a wonderful goal worthy of winning any match, but Santiago Cazorla made sure of the 2-0 win eight minutes from time.
England, who started with Wayne Rooney on the bench, held their own for much of the first half.
Ryan Bertrand and Raheem Sterling impressed down the left, but eventually Roy Hodgson’s men crumbled under intense pressure and Spain ran out deserved winners.
Hodgson felt his side were unlucky with the timing of Mario’s stunning opener.
He said: “I’m a bit disappointed because for 70 minutes I thought we defended very well. It was a poor goal to concede on a counter-attack for us. We gave the ball away and got punished by a fantastic goal.
“We had taken Delph and Lallana off already and then Michael Carrick gets injured and we concede the second goal with Chris Smalling limping so we didn’t have the best of luck in those areas.
“We played against a very good team, we knew that, the game was pretty much as we expected and for 70 minutes I thought we held up pretty well and in fact we were getting back into the game possession-wise when they scored, but I can’t say we deserved to win the game, they were the better team.”
The Spanish dominated possession from the first whistle and England did not help themselves by giving the ball away regularly.
Their run may have been impressive, but on this evidence they have a long way to go before they can call themselves European Championship contenders.
In the first half the hosts enjoyed 68 per cent possession. Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Thiago Alcantara hogged the ball and attempted to conjure up an opening goal.
When Spain finally allowed England to have the ball, they found the best use for it down the left. Sterling and Bertrand whipped in low crosses, but no one could finish. Harry Kane and Delph all registered shots on target, but Iker Casillas had no trouble saving them.
Even without Thiago and Andres Iniesta, who was substituted at the break, Spain had no trouble keeping the ball, and it looked inevitable they would score.
Hart saved well to deny Jordi Alba. At the other end, Kane fizzed a dipping drive just wide.
Any hopes England had of taking the lead were dashed in the 72nd minute when Fabregas chipped a ball into the box and Mario unleashed an acrobatic volley that flew past Hart.
Twelve minutes later Spain killed the game off. Cazorla was given space on the edge of the box and he took full advantage, curling the ball in off a post. Hart thought the goal should not have stood. He complained with the linesman and was booked. He could have no complaints about the result, however. England had been soundly beaten.