Spaniards left it late to see off South American challenge
Both sides had their chances to make the breakthrough, with David Villa striking the post in the first half, but Manchester City man Silva's neat flick from a Jesus Navas cross ultimately clinched a win for the world champions, who were not at their best for much of the match.
The Santiago Bernabeu was packed, with a carnival atmosphere as followers of the South Americans turned out in force to support their travelling side.
But the match fell into a pattern in the early stages that resembled much of Spain’s outings during the 2010 World Cup; they held sustained possession 40 yards from Colombia’s goal, but were unable to progress much further.
The visiting back four remained compact, and closed out the space on the likes of Andres Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Villa, but the latter still managed to squander a quilt-edged chance to surpass Raul’s record goal tally for the national side.
He raced onto an Iniesta through pass, shimmied the keeper Ospina, but his low effort struck the post, and as the ball rebounded back to him, he somehow contrived to send his second shot wide.
It was as close as Spain came in the first half, and indeed Colombia created their own opportunities. Abel Aguilar burst through the centre of the box, but when Casillas approached he attempted to prod the ball past him and could only strike the shot-stopper straight at his body.
Then, on the stroke of half-time Pablo Armero embarked on a mazy run from the left, skipping through some less than convincing challenges, but when clear on goal he skewed his shot high and wide of the target.
Tough contest | The likes of Iniesta were made to work hard for victory
Colombia gave as good as they got throughout the contest, and indeed as the game progressed they looked the more likely to break the deadlock.
The world champions made a number of changes, bringing the likes of Fernando Torres, Santi Cazorla and Navas into the action, but failed to create a opening through the robust pairing of Mario Yepes and Luis Perea.
The game began to open up in the final twenty minutes, and that seemed to be to Colombia’s advantage. Fredy Guarin launched a long range strike at goal that stung the fingers of Casillas, then substitute Hugo Rodallega performed a neat turn-and-shot flew just wide of the target.
But Vicente del Bosque’s side showed the type of resolve that stood them in such good stead in South Africa during the summer, and clinched a late winner.
Quick wing play from Navas saw the ball drilled across the near post, and Silva, on as a late replacement, got ahead of Yepes to flick neatly into the net.
Fernando Llorente could have made the win more convincing but saw his injury time effort blocked, and in the end Colombia will feel slightly aggrieved not to have taken what would have a been at least a creditable draw from a resilient display.