Friendly match - Falcao returns as Monaco and Valencia draw in Emirates Cup opener

It was honours even in the first match of the Emirates Cup, as Valencia and Monaco played out a draw in front of an Arsenal-supporting crowd that was clearly waiting for their own team to appear.

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Friendly match - Falcao returns as Monaco and Valencia draw in Emirates Cup opener
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Falcao celebrates with Monaco after his return against Valencia (AFP)

A brace of own goals kept the teams on equal pegging at half-time, but Valencia had much the better of the opening stages, with Rodrigo confounding the Monaco defence with pace and guile. A dash of creativity combined with the confusion of Ricardo Carvalho led to the first real chance of the half, but Sofiane Feghouli could not direct his header anywhere other than at Danijel Subasic.

Yet it was Monaco who took the lead, with Joao Moutinho’s corner causing problems for a static backline. With two men on the posts, Aymen Abdennour managed to guide the ball between them and Diego Alves, thanks in no small part to a deflection off Ruben Vezo.

Another own goal drew Valencia level, as Anthony Martial was caught out on the right and under pressure Carvalho had very little option other than to slide in and cross his fingers, but he succeeded only in stabbing the ball into the net.

Monaco’s defending was somewhat shambolic throughout, and Valencia deserved to go in front after a great run by Aly Cissokho playing in Paco Alcacer for a suave tap-in.

They should have increased their lead when Carles Gil was faced with just Subasic to beat, but the goalkeeper smothered the shot with ease and played the ball straight up the other end of the pitch, where Lucas Ocampos took it on and hit a low, hard drive from distance past the despairing glove of Alves.

The subdued atmosphere was enlivened by a substitution 20 minutes from time, as the ex-Tottenham man Dimitar Berbatov was bade farewell with a chorus of boos and whistles.

His replacement, Falcao, returning to action after seven months’ absence due to a cruciate ligament injury, however, was greeted with a resounding cheer.

TEAMS

Valencia: Alves; Barragan, Vezo, Otamendi, Cissokho; Parejo (Gil 70), Gomes (Guardado 70), Fuego; Feghouli (Piatti 46), Rodrigo (Alcacer 60), De Paul (Ibanez 60).

Monaco: Subasic; Fabinho (Bakayoko 80), Carvalho (Raggi 70), Abdennour, Kurzawa (Elderson 60); Toulalan (Dirar 60), Moutinho, Kondogbia (Carrasco 46); Martial (Ocampos 60), Berbatov (Falcao 72), Germain.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Probably an unfair decision, bearing in mind that it was a pre-season match with a certain lack of elan, but Rodrigo was most impressive in the hour he had.

TALKING POINT

The return of Falcao, of course. It was what a largely disinterested crowd wanted to see, and they got their wish. He looked sharp, as well, with no fear or reticence in order to protect his knee.

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