Spain struggled to find a way past a resolute Czech Republic defence and Petr Cech until three minutes left on the clock to make it 1-0.
And then, with seconds remaining and Spain finally edging towards a victory that looked as though it may elude them, David de Gea did what he usually does.
An afternoon spent largely as a spectator was almost up.
Ninety minutes of almost incessant Spanish pressure had finally brought them a goal from Pique two minutes earlier.
But one hopeful throw of the dice from a largely impotent Czech Republic team saw the ball drop to Vladimir Darida 12 yards from goal and a viciously struck volley seemed destined to bring Pavel Vrba’s team a point they really didn’t deserve.
And, after standing firm to parry Darida’s shot upwards to safety, the days leading up to the game, days dominated by unproven allegations of involvement in a sex scandal, must have finally drifted in to irrelevance. For now at least as the defending champions earned a hard-fought win in their Group D opener.