Ecuador may have had the first shot of the game, a wild mishit from Edson Montano, but Spain had the first meaningful one. Isco's firm strike was blocked and the ball rolled kindly into the path of Koke, who, from just outside the box, unleashed a piledriver that was heading for the top corner until John Jaramillo acrobatically pushed it round his post.
The South Americans had the game's next chance. Fernando Gaibor delivered an inviting corner, and Dennis Quinonez headed the ball with power but straight at relieved goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco.
Rodri, whose second goal against Costa Rica was indebted to his sheer determination, almost benefited from the same attribute on 18 minutes. The Brazil-born robbed John Narvaez of possession 25 yards from goal, held off the Ecuador No3, and from a difficult position just inside the box sliced his shot across goal and wide. However, Rodri was booked soon after and then blasted a shot well over the bar from just outside the box.
On 28 minutes, a Mario Pineida cross following a short corner was somehow missed by Montano, who was just yards from goal. Spain failed to clear their lines but after a scramble, Gaibor's strike was deflected wide for a corner, which came to nothing.
On the half-hour, Daniel Pacheco deceived Pineida down the left. The Liverpool player's cross flew past the Ecuador No1, but Rodrigo was unable to turn it in at the back post. The latter went clean through minutes later and finished with aplomb, only to have the goal ruled out for offside.
Spain had the last chance of the first 45. Tello beat his man down the right side of the penalty area, but his low strike went narrowly wide.
The second half started at a lively pace, flowing from end to end. However, it didn't take Spain coach Julen Lopetegiu long to bow to the supporters' wishes to introduce Sergio Canales, the biggest name in their squad, who making his Colombia 2011 entrance, replaced Pacheco.
It took the Valencia new boy just nine minutes to break the deadlock. Tello capitalised upon a defensive error and fed Canales, who tapped into an empty net.
Alvaro Vazquez missed a glorious chance to double Spain's lead on 74 minutes, but he ballooned his effort high and wide. Spain nevertheless got their second five minutes from time. Canales sent Vazquez through on goal, and this time the No20 finished coolly.
Spain will remain in Manizales to play Australia on Saturday, while Ecuador will compete their first-phase campaign against Costa Rica in Pereira.