Soriano returns 3 years later as Villarreal and Sevilla draw

MADRID (AP) — As former Spain international Bruno Soriano returned to soccer after three years, Villarreal and Sevilla drew 2-2 in the Spanish league on Monday.

Soriano went in as a late substitute to make his first appearance with Villarreal since May 2017 following recurring injuries. The 36-year-old midfielder, a member of Spain’s squad at the 2016 European Championship, was expected to miss the rest of the season but was able to recover during the pandemic break.

“I’m not going to lie, at times I thought about giving up, there were too many disappointments in a row,” an emotional Soriano said after. “It’s been hard, but fortunately I’m back. I’m very happy to have gotten this opportunity again. I tried to give all I had in these five minutes that I got to play.”

Soriano’s teammates cheered loudly when he returned to the dressing room at La Cerâmica Stadium. He went around thanking them one by one as they kept chanting.

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Soriano’s return didn’t help Villarreal pick up the home win, though, as it twice relinquished the lead to remain in sixth place with seven rounds left. It could drop to eighth after the round is over.

Sevilla moved to third place with the draw but could lose the position again if Atlético Madrid wins at Levante on Tuesday.

Paco Alcácer put the hosts ahead from close range in the 18th minute but Sergio Escudero equalized in the 39th with a low shot from outside the area.

Pau Torres’ header in first-half stoppage time gave Villarreal the lead again, but Sevilla evened the match with Munir El Haddadi’s beautiful angled volley from inside the box in the 63rd.

Villarreal had lost three straight and was back in eighth place before the league was suspended. But it had won all of its three matches since the league resumed — against Celta Vigo, Mallorca and Granada, all by 1-0.

Sevilla was coming off a 0-0 home draw against Barcelona for its second consecutive draw.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are tied for the lead but Madrid has a better goal difference and a better head-to-head record. Madrid next hosts relegation-threatened Mallorca on Wednesday, while defending champion Barcelona hosts Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday.

Also on Monday, second-to-last-place Leganés drew with midtable Granada 0-0. Miguel Ángel Guerrero missed a 65th-minute penalty kick for Leganés.

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