Santi Cazorla’s first LaLiga goals since 2012 stunned Real Madrid and stole struggling Villarreal a 2-2 draw at Estadio de la Ceramica.
The former Arsenal midfielder bagged a brace – including an 82nd-minute equaliser – as Real slumped to an eighth league game without victory in just 17 games this term, leaving them seven points adrift of leaders Barcelona.
Cazorla has relaunched his injury-hit career back in Spain this season, returning to his homeland after six years with the Gunners.
And the 34-year-old found the net in Spanish top-flight action for the first time since scoring for Malaga in a 1-1 draw at Osasuna on April 23, 2012 when he put Villarreal ahead after just four minutes on Thursday night.
Real quickly responded with goals from French duo Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane, but they could not hold on as Cazorla notched a rare headed goal at the death to grab a share of the spoils for the Yellow Submarine.
Gareth Bale was withdrawn at half-time in another blow to Real, having appeared to struggle with a possible left calf complaint late in the first half.
Former Spain schemer Cazorla handed Villarreal a flying start, firing in a low drive after Samuel Chukwueze had teed up the chance.
Real calmly set about reversing their fortunes, however, and when Lucas Vazquez whipped in a teasing cross, Benzema buried his header to square up the match just three minutes later.
That was Benzema’s 12th goal of the season in all competitions and he should have doubled his own and Real’s tally three minutes on from that, only to nod his header wide from Marcelo’s centre.
France World Cup-winner Varane made no mistake with a header of his own in the 20th minute, though, powering in from Toni Kroos’ cross for his first club goal in almost two years.
Real held onto that lead until the break, but try as they might after the interval were unable to cement their dominance.
The visitors had several chances to extend their lead without success, leaving them susceptible right until the death.
And Cazorla twice laid on fine balls for his team-mates that left Madrid relieved not to concede an equaliser.
First Victor Ruiz headed high and wide from Cazorla’s cross, then Alvaro Gonzalez followed suit.
But just when Real thought they could tiptoe home with the points, up popped Cazorla late on to nod in the equaliser and snatch a draw.
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