Villarreal draws 2-2 with Athletic Bilbao in Spain

JOSEPH WILSON Associated Press Published:

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Nilmar scored his first goal in five months to give Villarreal a 2-2 home draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday in the Spanish league.

Villarreal struck first at El Madrigal stadium through Marcos Senna's 11th-minute free kick. The veteran midfielder, who has rediscovered his form after a series of nagging injuries, curled the ball past the wall and out of the reach of goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.

Bilbao top scorer Fernando Llorente went on at halftime and netted his 13th league goal with a header in the 53rd before forward Markel Susaeta put the visitors in front in the 66th off a counterattack set up by Ander Herrera's long pass.

But just when Bilbao was playing its best football, Nilmar tapped in a rebound two minutes later that Iraizoz let fall to the Brazil striker for his first goal since September 24.

Llorente had a chance to grab a winner when he lost his marker inside the area only for Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez to smother his low strike.

Villarreal's eighth straight home game without a loss moved it three points clear of the drop, while Bilbao rose to fifth place -- one point behind Levante in fourth.

League leader Real Madrid visits crosstown Rayo Vallecano later Sunday looking to maintain its 10-point advantage over Barcelona, which travels to an Atletico Madrid team rejuvenated under new manager Diego Simeone.

Also, it's: Valencia vs. Sevilla; Osasuna vs. Granada; and Real Sociedad vs. Mallorca.

On Saturday, it was: Racing Santander 1, Sporting Gijon 1; Real Betis 1, Getafe 1; Malaga 5, Zaragoza 1; and Espanyol 1, Levante 2.