Bale scores on debut but Real held by Villarreal
By Kieran Canning ,AFPMADRID -- World record signing Gareth Bale scored on his long-awaited Real Madrid debut on Saturday, but his side were still held 2-2 at Villarreal.
September 16, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
The Welshman, who joined Madrid from Tottenham for a reported record fee of around 80 million pounds (US$124 million) earlier this month, turned home Dani Carvajal's cross five minutes from half-time to send Madrid in level at the break after Cani had given Villarreal a deserved lead.
Bale was then withdrawn to make way for Angel Di Maria on the hour mark, but the visitors were in front just two minutes later when Cristiano Ronaldo's effort ricocheted past Sergio Asenjo in the Villarreal goal.
However, Giovani Dos Santos, another former Tottenham player, swept home after Diego Lopez had denied Cani a second 21 minutes from time to preserve Villarreal's unbeaten record on their return to the top flight as Real fell two points behind Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at the top of the table.
“I think it is a fair result because Villarreal played well, they are a very good team,” said Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti.
“The matches after an international break are always difficult. The preparation is different and it is not just a physical problem, but a mental one too.
“The reaction after the first goal was good and with more attention we could have won, but it was a fair result.”
With Madrid sporting four changes in all since their last outing, Ancelotti's men were pulled apart in the early stages by the hosts and were thankful to Lopez for making two important stops from Jonathan Pereira.
The hosts did finally go in front on 20 minutes when a loose ball fell perfectly for Cani inside the area and his scuffed effort looped over Lopez and into the net.
Lopez then pulled off a sensational double save to deny Javier Aquino doubling Villarreal's advantage, but Real slowly started to find a route back into the game and should have been level when Ronaldo headed wildly wide from Sergio Ramos' fine pass.