Gareth Southgate's bid to earn the full-time role of England manager was given its biggest boost when his side impressed in a 2-2 draw with Spain, despite a comfortable two-nil lead being lost.
Adam Lallana gave his nation the lead with his third England goal of 2016, tucking away an early penalty after the mesmerising Jamie Vardy was fouled by Pepe Reina.
Vardy - earning a rare start - doubled the lead three minutes into the second half. Jordan Henderson crossed for the striker to power home a header from eight yards.
Former Liverpool forward Iago Aspas curled a shot beyond England substitute Tom Heaton in the closing stages on his international debut, seemingly giving his side a mere consolation, however, there was worse to come for England.
The comeback was completed when Isco crept a shot under Heaton with the last kick of the game.
The late slip-up shouldn't have any ramifications for the England manager-elect. Southgate is expected to be appointed within the next few days.
Lallana gives England the lead
Southgate's side were clearly not expecting the 3-5-2 formation adopted by their opponents. Wing-back Dani Carvajal was allowed too much room to cross in the opening exchanges but Joe Hart intercepted before the ball reached Aritz Aduriz.
Vardy received a stern warning from Romanian referee, Ovidiu Alin Hategan, following a wild follow through on Cesar Azpilicueta. The resulting free-kick was cleared as England's defence began in solid style.
The Leicester City forward was at the centre of every major incident in the opening stages and won a penalty after seven minutes when he was tripped by Reina. Vardy had been found by a wonderful pass by Lallana and the Liverpool midfielder stepped up to take the penalty in the absence of Wayne Rooney, and put the ball beyond the reach of former Reds goalkeeper Reina.
Lallana's excellent start to the game was brought to a premature end as he pulled up with an injury after 25 minutes and left the field clutching his groin.
Spain flattered to deceive in a first half of minimal chances. Their best effort came when Sevilla's Vitolo dragged an effort wide of Joe Hart's right-hand post with his weaker right foot.
England's width was causing problems to the Spanish back three and Raheem Sterling produced two excellent low crosses in quick succession; the first was almost deflected into the net by Inigo Martinez and the second was inches away from finding the feet of the impressive Vardy.
England impress in second half but late slip-up costs them a victory
Southgate made just two changes during the half-time break as Heaton and Phil Jagielka earned rare international appearances, replacing Hart and Gary Cahill respectively. Spain reverted to a back four having seen the Three Lions' wide men torment the wing-backs throughout the majority of the first half. Aspas replaced Vitolo while Koke came on for the ineffective Juan Mata.
It took just three minutes for England to double their lead, stand-in captain Henderson supplied Vardy and last season's phenomenon headed home from close range to give his Country a surprise 2-0 lead.
A superb England performance almost found them net a third when Jesse Lingard found himself one-on-one with Reina, but the Manchester United winger was dragged wide by the goalkeeper and his cross was cleared by Javi Martinez.
Vardy was outstanding throughout, consistently chasing loose passes down either channel and being a constant menace to the Spain defence, perhaps forcing his way further into Southgate's plans having failed to secure much game time in the three games prior in the interim manager's reign. He was withdrawn with 25 minutes left, replaced by Marcus Rashford as England tried a fresh impetus at the top of the pitch.
Substitute Alvaro Morata had Spain's best effort of the game when he cut inside and curled a shot towards bottom corner but Heaton was equal to the effort, just as the impressive Burnley goalkeeper has been to most shots played at him this season.
The Real Madrid striker offered much more of a threat to the England defence than Aduriz had in the first half, fellow sub Koke almost found him with a chipped pass but the ball ran through to Heaton. Remarkably, Spain seemed starved of ideas.
Rashford's first involvement came when he exchanged superb one-twos with Henderson and Danny Rose - almost reminiscent of a Spanish move from the early 2010s - the latter earning a free-kick after being wildly scythed down by Carvajal who received a yellow card for his troubles.
Spain finally found a way past Heaton with just a minute remaining of normal time. Aspas was allowed too much room by John Stones and curled a great effort beyond the goalkeeper via the inside of the post.
The comeback was completed when Isco nudged the ball through Heaton's legs with the last kick of the game after England once again afforded too much room to their opponents.
The late slip-up is not expected to have any consequences to Southgate's bid to earn the full-time job. It is expected that the FA will appoint the former Middlesborough boss within the next few days.