Hatem Ben Arfa resurfaces thriving in ‘lots of space and freedom’ at Nice

Hatem Ben Arfa supplied a double and playmaking impetus on Wednesday night as Nice routed Bordeaux 6-1 in Ligue 1.

Nice's Hatem Ben Arfa celebrates at the end of their Ligue 1 victory over Bodeaux on Wednesday night. Valery Hache / AFP / September 23, 2015
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Hatem Ben Arfa inspired Nice to a come-from-behind 6-1 victory over Bordeaux on Wednesday, scoring twice in a performance that should help bury his recent tussles with footballing red tape.

Jaroslav Plasil had finished off a neat Bordeaux build-up on six minutes as the visitors looked firmly on top, but Nice soon pulled ahead thanks to Ben Arfa’s industry and imagination.

Goals from Valere Germain and then Mikael Le Bihan, who tapped in a rebound from a long range shot from Ben Arfa, had Nice 2-1 ahead at half-time.

From the restart things got even worse for Bordeaux with a red card for Enzo Crivelli after 50 minutes and then an own-goal by Nicolas Pallois a minute later.

Ben Arfa then crowned a magnificent personal performance with a double on 68 and 74 minutes, one a tap in after a lightning breakaway, the other a flashing shot after a mazy run.

The 28-year-old said after the game Nice’s open style of play was suiting him.

"It's down to teamwork, I get lots of space and freedom because of the way we move the ball round. We're all happy and above all me. It's good to see us climbing up the table," he told French daily L'Equipe.

Alexandre Mendy added the sixth goal to make in 6-1 for Nice in the 84th minute.

Ben Arfa had been set to join Nice during the last winter break but was caught up in an administrative mix-up before Fifa and the French football governing body stepped in to block the transfer.

He had played a game with Newcastle United’s reserves during the summer of 2014 before being loaned out to Hull City, meaning he was prevented from joining Nice due to a rule that a player can only play for two clubs in a single season.

Earlier this week, he lost his appeal against the ruling and where he had been trying to recover the earnings he lost during the time he was sidelined.

Saint-Etienne needed an own goal in a 1-0 win against plucky newcomers Troyes, which came when Thomas Ayase tried to keep track with the onrushing striker Romain Hamouma only to turn the ball into his own goal.

Christophe Galtier's team came fifth last season but are now sitting pretty in second, just a point behind Paris Saint-Germain who beat Guingamp 1-0 on Tuesday.

In a bad-tempered late game, Marseille substitute Michy Batshuayi scored a 90th minute equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw at Toulouse after three men had been sent off.

Referee Antony Gautier first sent Marseille’s Benjamin Mendy packing, less than a minute after he’d come on in the 75th minute, for pulling Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akproa down.

Toulouse had already taken the lead after 67 minutes as Martin Braithwaite slotted home the opener in a frantic goalmouth scramble.

But the game began to turn again when Toulouse’s Jacques Francois Moubandje was sent off on 83 minutes for a second bookable offence before his teammate Steeve Yago was given a straight red for a kick on George Kevin Nkoudou just three minutes later.

In the confusion that followed Marseille launched a massive assault, scoring the leveller and scorning a golden chance to clinch all three points when they fluffed a two on one.

Elsewhere, Lyon beat Bastia 2-0, Lorient beat Caen by the same score and tiny Gazelec Ajaccio of Corsica got their first home points in Ligue 1 with a 1-1 draw with Rennes.

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