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Ben Arfa inspires Marseille to victory

Ben Arfa inspires Marseille to victory

Hatem Ben Arfa put his dispute with coach Eric Gerets behind him, scoring one goal and creating two more to lead Marseille over Saint-Etienne 3-1 and into second place in the French league on Saturday.
Ben Arfa's penalty kick, and goals from Benoit Cheyrou and Taye Taiwo, took Marseille past Toulouse and Bordeaux and within one point of seven-time defending champion Lyon _ which can move four points clear by beating Le Mans on Sunday.
Ben Arfa had been dropped to the bench last weekend, and he even refused to warm up when Gerets asked him to during the 4-2 home loss to Paris Saint-Etienne, prompting a heated exchange between the two.
Ben Arfa and Gerets had a meeting this week to clear the air and Gerets said the problem was resolved. On Saturday, the France winger responded to that vote of confidence with a brilliant individual performance.
In the 22nd minute, he tricked his way past his marker on the left and delivered a perfect cross for Cheyrou to head home.
Although Bafetimbi Gomis equalized a minute later for Saint-Etienne, Ben Arfa's pass found Bakary Kone inside the area and he was fouled. Ben Arfa coolly converted the penalty in the 38th, and in the second half he floated over a corner in the 71st which was met by Taiwo's powerful header.
Lyon has 24 points, Marseille has 23, while Bordeaux and Toulouse both remain on 21 points from 12 rounds.
Earlier, Bordeaux and Toulouse both lost 1-0 and missed their chance to pressure Lyon.
Youssouf Hadji's 70th minute strike was enough for home side Nancy to beat Bordeaux, and veteran Benjamin Nivet scored Caen's winner at Toulouse in the 79th.
Bordeaux had already lost goalkeeper Ulrich Rame to a recurrence of his groin injury in the 22nd minute, and replacement goalkeeper Matthieu Valverde was powerless to stop Hadji's shot from 20 yards (meters) hitting the top corner.
Nivet's winner for Caen was even better.
He collected a back heel from striker Steve Savidan 25 yards (meters) from goal, taking one touch to control the ball and then curling it past goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso.
The win eased Nancy's relegation fears and improved it to 12 points, while Caen has 17 points and is mid table.
In Saturday's other results, it was: Lille 2, Nantes 0; Nice 1, Paris Saint-Germain 0; Lorient 1, Grenoble 1, and Auxerre 0, Valenciennes 0.
PSG's second straight defeat and fifth of the season will do little for club president Charles Villeneuve's stated ambition of breaking into the top five after two seasons fighting relegation.
Having lost 1-0 at home to Toulouse in midweek, PSG could not recover after Eric Mouloungui headed in former PSG midfielder David Hellebuyck's corner in the 39th.
Ludovic Obraniak and Nicolas Fauvergue scored either side of halftime for Lille's fifth win of the season, and Fabrice Abriel's penalty kick got a point for Lorient after Laurent Courtois had given Grenoble the lead.


Updated : 2021-10-17 03:29 GMT+08:00