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Marseille up to second as Ben Arfa debuts for Lille


Paris (AFP) – Marseille made it five successive wins away from home to move second in Ligue 1 with a 2-0 victory at Lens on Saturday, while Hatem Ben Arfa’s new club Lille slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Brest.

Facundo Medina’s foul on Matteo Guendouzi resulted in a penalty which Dimitri Payet stroked into the bottom right corner.

Both sides had their chances to add to the score but it fell to debutant Cedric Bakambu to secure the points for Marseille in the 76th minute, latching on to a through ball from Guendouzi and drilling the ball home.

“I’m happy, we have the three points,” Bakambu, who signed from Beijing Guoan last week, told Canal+.

“We have a good defensive base, we are good with the ball… For an attacker, it’s easier to find space and to be decisive.”

Marseille are now one point ahead of third-placed Nice and 10 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain who host Reims on Sunday. Nice will go back into second if they win at Metz.

Former France international Hatem Ben Arfa made his debut for Lille, his 10th professional club, but the 34-year-old could not prevent the league champions from slipping at a 2-0 defeat at Brest, their first loss since late October.

Ben Arfa, who had not played since May, came on as a 76th-minute substitute to replace Burak Yilmaz as Lille trailed 1-0 following a Tiago Djalo own goal in the third minute.

Brest sealed the points with a 95th-minute penalty by Steve Mounie but Ben Arfa, who signed for Lille on Wednesday, still did enough to impress his new coach Jocelyn Gourvennec.

“Hatem Ben Arfa showed all his qualities tonight, positioning and movement, his ability to bring his teammates into the game,” said Gourvennec.

Mid-table Brest took the lead when Ronael Pierre-Gabriel’s low cross was met by Portugal U21 international Djalo who miscued past Ivo Grbic.

Ben Arfa almost levelled in the 88th minute, connecting with a cross only to see Brest goalkeeper Marco Bizot pull off a fine save.

With Lille pushing forward in search of an equaliser, they were caught on the counter in added time.

A clumsy challenge from Zeki Celik on Franck Honorat produced a penalty which Mounie put away to secure the three points.

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