Radamel Falcao returns for Monaco after six months out
London: Monaco striker Radamel Falcao made his first appearance for over six months as a second-half substitute in his side`s 2-2 friendly draw against Valencia in London on Saturday.
The 28-year-old Colombia international had not played since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a French Cup game against amateur side Chasselay on January 22.
The injury cut short his debut season at the big-spending Ligue 1 club and prevented him from appearing at the World Cup, where Colombia reached the quarter-finals.
Falcao replaced Dimitar Berbatov with 18 minutes to play at the Emirates Stadium, taking up a central role alongside Valere Germain in a 4-4-2 system, but did not manage any attempts on goal.
"Falcao played for 20 minutes to help him overcome his anxiety, which is natural when you come back after six months without playing," said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim.
"He played well. It was important for him to play a bit, so tomorrow (Sunday, against Arsenal) he can play from the beginning.
"Let`s see tomorrow if he can play for 60 minutes or just 45."
Falcao later took to Twitter to say "Simply thank you!!!" He added: "Thanks to God for consoling me and giving me encouragement over the last six months...Thanks to everyone for a simple message of encouragement."
He has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, who have already signed his international team-mate James Rodriguez from Monaco in a deal worth around 80 million euros ($108 million, £63.9million).
But Jardim said: "At this moment, regardless of what people say, Falcao is with us. He`s in the final stages of his recovery. I count on him for this season."
The match was the opening game of the Emirates Cup pre-season tournament, which also features hosts Arsenal and Benfica.
Monaco took the lead in the 30th minute when Joao Moutinho`s left-wing corner was met by Aymen Abdennour and flicked into the net off Ruben Vezo for an own goal.
A Ricardo Carvalho own goal six minutes later levelled the scores and Valencia went in front 20 minutes from full-time when substitute Paco Alcacer tapped in a low cross from Aly Cissokho.
But after Falcao had made his entrance from the bench, Lucas Ocampos struck an 80th-minute equaliser for Monaco, running from deep and planting a shot in the bottom-left corner from outside the box.
Monaco, runners-up to Paris Saint-Germain last season, open their Ligue 1 campaign at home to Lorient a week on Sunday.
Valencia`s season does not begin until August 23, when they visit Sevilla in La Liga.