A makeshift Villarreal side frustrated Espanyol to come away with a point from a disappointing 0-0 draw which the hosts finished with 10 men.
The home side were the dominant force in the first half but were most dangerous from set-pieces as Hector Moreno had a goal disallowed and Ndri Romaric sent a free-kick just wide.
Villarreal's Marco Ruben had the best chance of the match in the second period but could not direct Hernan Perez's pass into an open goal.
Espanyol had Juan Forlin sent off with 15 minutes remaining and the visitors nearly took all three points with the man advantage but Perez and Ruben saw efforts fly just off target.
With a number of key players still missing, Juan Carlos Garrido was forced into another experimental line-up.
Left-back Joan Oriol started on the left-side of midfield and that lack of fluency unsettled the visitors in the opening stages as they failed to get into their normal passing rhythm.
Moreno was rightly adjudged to be just offside...