Spain are now just one win away from the Euro 2016 finals thanks to Tuesday's 1-0 victory over Macedonia in Skopje.
Despite Vicente del Bosque warning him that he would not be selected if his Manchester United exile continued, David de Gea was selected ahead of Iker Casillas and Sergio Rico in goal.
Elsewhere, Dani Carvajal, Juan Bernat, Santi Cazorla, Isco and Mata all came in for Jordi Alba, Juanfran, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Pedro Rodriguez. Gerard Pique also kept his place at centre-back following the much-publicised boos he received on Saturday against Group C rivals Slovakia.
Spain may have begun the match in dominant fashion yet struggled for attempts on goal in the first half, with Diego Costa again failing to prove his credentials in attack, firing two shots wide from close range and picking up a booking, which will see him miss his country's next game against Luxembourg.
Consequently, it took a freak goal from Mata to break the deadlock, the United ace clipping a cross from the edge of the box over the head of a shellshocked Tome Pacovski.
Del Bosque's troops then almost doubled their lead from a similar effort as Carvajal almost caught out the goalkeeper with a cross, this time from a deeper position on the right and the crossbar coming to the rescue.
Spain were expected to make their emphatic possession statistics count after the break in the form of more goals, with so much attacking flair on display, but they failed to fashion a clear-cut opportunity.
Their best move saw Carvajal meet Andres Iniesta's square pass at the byline, but the right-back's cross into the box failed to be turned in, despite Pacovski abandoning his line.
Instead, it was left to FYROM to create the second half's best chance via Mirko Ivanovski, who pounced on a deep cross following Pique's missed header but had his close-range finish crucially blocked by Sergio Busquets.
La Roja now just need to beat Luxembourg next month to book their place in France and can also secure top spot in Group C if Slovakia fail to beat Belarus.
Macedonia 0-1 Spain
Macedonia: Pacovski; Brdarovski, Sikov, Ristevski, Zhuta; Gligorov, Petrovikj; Radeski (Ibraimi 85), Hasani, Askovski (Bardi 77); Ivanovski (Trajkovski 69)
Spain: De Gea; Carvajal, Ramos, Pique, Bernat; Busquets, Cazorla (Koke 69), Isco (Iniesta 78); Mata, Silva; Costa (Alcacer 62)
Referee: Tagliavento [ITA]