Gareth Bale scores twice and was expelled as Real Madrid in the hands of Villarreal
MADRID: Gareth Bale scored twice to save Real Madrid of a harmful defeat in Villarreal the Sunday before closing a dramatic 2-2 draw to be ejected in time of injury.
Zinedine Zidane said in July that it would be better for everyone if Bale left this summer, but it was twice the Welsh that earned Madrid a point in an exciting contest in Ceramics.
Villarreal took the lead through Gerard Moreno in the 12th minute and then Moi Gomez 16 minutes from the end but each time Bale pegged them back, first on the stroke of half-time and then four minutes from the end.
Two yellow cards in the same amount of minutes saw Bale dramatically ejected in the 94th minute, but by then his contribution to save matches was complete.
I am satisfied with his goals, of course, and now we have to think about a break, Zidane said. Although he will not rest since he will leave with his national team.
It was six years to the day that Real Madrid paid 100 million euros (now $ 110m) to sign Bale, who now has 104 goals for the club, as many as the Brazilian Ronaldo.
But his heroism could not save Madrid from another slip, which means that they are heading for the international break five points behind Atlético de Madrid striker, who had defeated Eibar 3-2.
We have to improve defensively, said Zidane. We know we can create opportunities. The positive is the reaction we show because it is important not to lose.
When asked what was missing, Casemiro said: We were missing everything.
However, after drawing at home with Real Valladolid, this was not the result that Zidane had wanted, particularly since he launched two new signings in his initial lineup.
Luka Jovic and Ferland Mendy began, with Bale to the left of the center of the field in a 4-4-2, a sign of Zidane's renewed faith in the defensive capabilities of the 30-year-old.
Zidane has now won just six of the 14 games since returning as a coach in March and it remains to be seen if the club makes late additions on the last day of the transfer window on Monday.
Sergio Ramos was to blame for the first goal, stolen in the middle line by Moreno, who drove forward and got into Karl Toko Ekambi. Ekambi's shot was rejected by Thibaut Courtois, but only in Moreno's path, who chose his place.
Madrid dominated the rest of the half when Casemiro opened wide, Lucas Vázquez hit the side net and Karim Benzema's long-range effort hit the post.
They scored in the 46th minute with a brilliant goal, Jovic throwing Casemiro's pass to Dani Carvajal, who crossed for the first time for Bale to tap.
Madrid pressed for a second after the restart when Bale and Toni Kroos approached and Benzema had the ball in the net but was correctly called offside.
Instead, Villarreal landed a sucker-punch on the break as Mario Gaspar's cross was cleared only to Santi Cazorla. His shot was saved by Courtois but Javi Ontiveros fired in again and Moi Gomez was perfectly placed.
Villarreal tried to hang on but tension set in and Bale equalized with four minutes left, cutting inside from the right and dragging a shot back inside the near post.
I could have imagined a 'hat-trick' at the discount time, but instead he picked up two yellow cards, the second for a late challenge at Ontiveros.