Bale scores on debut as Madrid held
The Yellow Submarine's bright first half was rewarded with a goal for Ruben Cani in the 21st minute but Wales winger Bale, an £85.3million capture from Tottenham, equalised in the 39th minute.
His debut lasted just over an hour and his departure passed the spotlight back to Cristiano Ronaldo, the player he replaced as the world's most expensive, who fortuitously put the visitors in front in the 64th minute.
The home side deservedly earned a point, though, when their own former Spurs wideman Giovani dos Santos struck in the 70th minute.
Villarreal started on the front foot and sloppy defending from Pepe allowed Jonathan Pereira to force a near-post save from Diego Lopez. Dani Carvajal then had to rescue Real two minutes later as Giovani closed in.
Bale's first contribution of note came in the 10th minute when he lofted a ball across the penalty area and Nacho set up a chance for Ronaldo, who was penalised for a foul on Mateo Musacchio.
Lopez made a brilliant, and vital, save after a corner was flicked on to the unmarked Pereira beyond the far post, though he was aided by the forward's poor first touch.
Ronaldo - still "the boss" at free-kicks, according to Bale - pulled rank over a 17th-minute opportunity but shot over.
Villarreal took a deserved lead, though, when Bruno Soriano played the ball into the box and Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Carvajal were all drawn to Pereira. He turned the ball on to Cani whose bobbling shot, possibly deflected by the lunging Ramos, beat Lopez.
Carvajal broke up another dangerous attack sparked by the livewire Pereira and Lopez continued to bail out his team with a superb double save from Pereira after Javier Aquino's delicious backheel.
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