Bale makes first start in nearly six months as Real Madrid held by Villarreal

Gareth Bale went closest to firing Real Madrid to victory on his first start since 28 August
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Gareth Bale made his first club appearance in nearly six months – and struck the crossbar – as Real Madrid drew 0-0 at Villarreal in La Liga.

The Wales international had not played for Madrid since their 1-0 win at Real Betis on 28 August.

The 32-year-old went closest to firing the visitors in front when he rattled the crossbar early in the second half.

Villarreal’s Arnaut Danjuma struck the post in the first half, while Real’s Luka Jovic also hit the bar late on.

Bale, who was flanked by Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio in the absence of injured Karim Benzema, could have given the visitors the lead before half-time but Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli raced off his line to block the former Tottenham player’s shot.

He was played in again by Vinicius in the second half but was once again denied by the onrushing Rulli.

The draw leaves Real four points clear of second-placed Sevilla in La Liga ahead of their Champions League last-16 meeting at Paris St-Germain on Tuesday.

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