Bale's day to remember
The world record signing finally joined forces with one, Cristiano Ronaldo, to score a goal apiece in Real Madrid's 2-2 away stalemate at the Estadio El Madrigal on Saturday night. Yet if it weren't for the bulwark presented by Diego Lopez, Bale's first would well have been a sour affair.
Two new 24-year-old recruits at Villarreal - Jonathan Pereira and Giovanni dos Santos - played a game of catch-me-if-you-can with Sergio Ramos and Pepe, who had big brother Lopez overlooking them whenever they slipped up.
Cani's 17th minute opener and dos Santos' strike in the 70th straddled goals from Bale and Ronaldo, whose market value is 135,000,000 euros more than that of their economical goalscoring counterparts.
But that extra money spent by Madrid could well have been an embarrassment had Lopez - a former Villarreal and Madrid 'second-in-line' custodian - not saved the day for what is, by each season, looking like the assembly of another generation of Galacticos.
The 31-year-old put up quite the performance to deny a side that hardly looked like it had earned promotion to Spain's top flight this season. Considering they were playing the richest club in the world spangled with superstars, coach Marcelino Garcia Toral and his boys showed little regard for their opposition as they attacked with purposeful counters.
It was an attitude developed by Toral after he took charge of The Yellow Submarine mid-way through last season. And it weathered the scheming brain of Carlo Ancelotti and some of the fastest legs in world football alike.
Bale dutifully stepped off at the hour mark alongside Illarramendi, making way for the experienced heads of Angel di Maria and Sami Khedira. But the duo - perhaps still nostalgic over the adieu to fellow midfield darling Mesut Ozil - could hardly be of help to a snoozing Karim Benzema upfront.
Perhaps his side dropping the first points of the season wasn't such a bad memory for Bale on debut at his dream club, considering what could have been. Villarreal can sing for the moment as they sit pretty at No. 3, level on points with Madrid, yet greater in goal difference and pride.
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