Radamel Falcao could recover in time for the World Cup in June after the Colombia striker underwent knee surgery on Saturday.
The 27-year-old injured his left knee playing for Monaco in the French Cup on Wednesday and it looked likely that he would miss out on the tournament in Brazil.
However, the Portuguese doctor who performed the operation said ''there's a possibility'' of Falcao going. Jose Carlos Noronha told reporters that ''it's not out of the question'' and gave the striker a better than 50 percent chance. ''It went well,'' Noronha said. ''The light at the end of the tunnel isn't small.''
Colombia play Greece on June 14 in their first match of the World Cup. The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, visited Falcao at the hospital in Porto, northern Portugal, after making a stop on his way back from Switzerland.
Noronha said the procedure involved grafting a tendon onto Falcao's knee. Inflammation from the original injury had gone down relatively quickly, he said, allowing surgery to go ahead.
However, Noronha warned that Falcao ''can't rush his recovery'' and that doctors will have a much better idea in 3 1/2 months over his World Cup prospects. Falcao is expected to be released from Trindade Hospital in downtown Porto on Monday, when he will begin oxygen treatment.