Benjamin Mendy, acquitted in a sex offences trial in England in July, played his first game in two years on Sunday when he came on as a substitute for Lorient against Monaco in Ligue 1.
The 29-year-old France international and former Manchester City player was introduced 70 minutes into his new club’s 2-2 draw with the Ligue 1 leaders.
Lorient were trailing 2-1 when Mendy came on, and it was the defender’s cross which led to Romain Faivre’s equalising goal in the eighth minute of stoppage time in Brittany.
His last competitive game before Sunday was back in August 2021 in the Premier League for City against Tottenham Hotspur.
“With Benjamin’s crossing ability we know he will be a really important player for us,” said the Lorient coach, Regis Le Bris.
Mendy had been building up his fitness since his acquittal two months ago which ended a three-year court process.
The former Marseille and Monaco left-back signed for Lorient on a two-year deal a week after his trial ended.
The player, who would have faced a lengthy jail term if convicted, had previously been cleared in January of six counts of rape and one of sexual assault following a six-month trial.
Jurors in that trial had been unable to reach a verdict on two other counts, triggering the retrial.
Mendy, whose contract with English and European champions City expired at the end of June, denied all the charges against him.
Mendy has 10 international caps and was part of the France squad that won the 2018 World Cup.
Monaco, whose goals came from Aleksandr Golovin and Folarin Balogun, are a point clear at the top of the table despite the draw.
Surprise package Brest are second after coming from behind to win 2-1 away at Reims later on Sunday.
Marseille would have gone level on points with Monaco with a win at home to Toulouse but were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw, a result that was greeted by loud jeers from their fans at the Velodrome.
Marcelino’s Marseille side go to Ajax in the Europa League in midweek before visiting Paris Saint-Germain, who went down 3-2 at home to Nice on Friday, their first defeat under new coach Luis Enrique.
In Sunday’s late game, Lyon drew 0-0 at home to Le Havre to climb off the bottom of the table, although they remain without a win this season.
It was Lyon’s first match since former Italian international Fabio Grosso was named to replace the sacked Laurent Blanc as coach.
Grosso, who scored the winning kick when Italy beat France on penalties in the 2006 World Cup final, played for Lyon from 2007 to 2009.
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