Monaco (AFP) – Radamel Falcao scored on his return from a month out to help Monaco dismantle Montpellier 6-2 to move within a point of Ligue 1 leaders Nice on Friday.

Rampant Monaco leap-frog champions Paris Saint-Germain into second with PSG and Nice both in action on Sunday.

Despite the lop-sided scoreline they did not have it all their own way on a night of controversial refereeing decisions, a sublime free kick and some rank-bad defending from Montpellier. 

The visitors went ahead in the ninth minute when Ryad Boudebouz curled in a wonderful free kick from just outside the penalty box, his delicious left-footed strike leaving Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic rooted to the spot and stunning the home crowd.

On 36 minutes Monaco were level in debatable circumstances. 

At first glance Falcao’s strike partner Kylian Mbappe, just 17, appeared to have been chopped down in the box, but replays strongly suggested that he took a dive.

Referee Amaury Delerue waved away the Montpellier complaints and captain Falcao stepped up to send Geoffrey Jourdren the wrong way in what was the Colombian international’s first appearance since suffering a nasty concussion in Monaco’s 4-0 defeat to Nice on September 21.

The talented teenager Mbappe edged Monaco ahead four minutes into the second half when he headed home unchallenged.

On 61 minutes Montpellier were back level, Boudebouz’s penalty just squeezing in between the post and Subasic’s left glove. 

The visitors had parity for just three minutes when up popped central defender Jemerson to prod home from a free kick for 3-2 and it was soon 4-2 when a Mbappe cross was nodded in by substitute Valere Germain, who had come on for Falcao.

Two minutes later Thomas Lemar brutally punished some poor goalkeeping by Jourdren and in the dying stages Adama Traore rounded off the rout from a tight angle.

The highlight of the weekend action in Ligue 1 comes on Sunday when struggling Marseille — now with a new coach and new owner — travel to PSG.

Lucien Favre’s Nice bid to extend their impressive unbeaten run when they visit Metz the same day.