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Rennes win on Hatem Ben Arfa landmark

Publish on 02/02/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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Hatem Ben Arfa celebrated his 200th Ligue 1 Conforama game with a win, with Mehdi Zeffane getting the only goal late on (81') in a 1-0 triumph over struggling Amiens SC.

 Stade Rennais FC 1-0 Amiens SC 

THE MATCH

With both teams lining up with matching 4-2-3-1 formations, this game always looked likely to hinge on a moment of magic. Amiens were the first to try and conjure it, Juan Otero letting fly after Mathieu Bodmer had slipped him in, but the Colombian's effort was deflected wide for a corner (12'). Ben Arfa then played a through-ball to Ismaïla Sarr at the other end, but the Senegal attacker blasted what might have been his sixth goal of the season wide of the post (14'). Clément Grenier was the next to try his luck, with a free-kick from traditional Grenier territory nearly 40 yards from goal, but his effort ended up safely in Régis Gurtner's hands (20'). Grenier and Sarr then combined for another chance as the hosts finished the half well, but Sarr's volley wide failed to do the build-up play that preceded it justice (34').

Zeffane seals the win

Neither side made any changes at the interval, though given how the first half ended that seemed to make more sense for the hosts. Sarr came close to breaking the deadlock less than ten minutes after the restart, but Gurtner stood tall to deny him when one on one (52'). The match was inside the final 20 minutes before Amiens mustered their next real chance on Tomas Koubek's goal, but Otero blasted off-target following good hold-up play from Cheick Timité (73'). Ben Arfa had the crowd on their feet minutes later, breaking forward at speed with the ball to open up a three on one, but he was stopped in his tracks when a pass to a teammate might have been better (74'). The profligacy would ultimately go unpunished though, with Zeffane having the final say, lashing home from M'Baye Niang's cutback for 1-0 (83').

THE PLAYER: Ismaïla Sarr

Sarr may have been kept from scoring but that wasn't for the want of trying. An outright winger earlier in his career, the 20-year-old looks at his best when he drifts inside to get on the end of through-balls rather than providing them himself. The former FC Metz man had a game-high five shots on goal against a turgid Amiens defence, and could well add to his tally of six Ligue 1 Conforama goals against LOSC on Wednesday if he puts in a similar shift.

THE STAT: 200

Ben Arfa's longevity in the game, as well as the mercurial ability he still possesses, was rightly celebrated by the home crowd - and even some sections of the opposition - throughout. A five-time Ligue 1 Conforama champion, it's as much a shame as it is a mystery that world football only saw the left-footed midfield wizard turn out for France 15 times. Still only 31, if Rennes can mount a challenge for Europe this term, Ben Arfa will be central to it.