Ben Arfa and Nice light up French football
Hatem Ben Arfa was on the scoresheet once more as rampant Nice thrashed Rennes 4-1 in Brittany.
Stade Rennais FC 1-4 OGC Nice
Top scorers in Ligue 1 with 24 goals, Nice recorded their fourth straight win and in each of those victories they have scored three goals or more. Ben Arfa was once again the inspiration and the 28-year-old is in the scoring form of his life. Fifth in the table, Nice have a game in hand on the clubs above them with their Week 9 home fixture against Nantes rescheduled for November 4 after it had to be abandoned because of flooding.
In the third minute Nice top scorer Ben Arfa played in Wallyson and the Brazilian midfielder was unable to find the target. Just before the quarter-hour the visitors hit the front as Rennes failed to deal with a corner and Wallyson headed it back in to the area for Mathieu Bodmer to finish, the veteran defender stabbing the ball into the corner of the net, played onside by fellow former PSG man Sylvain Armand.
With Mouez Hassen and Simon Pouplin injured, Yoan Cardinale made his first Ligue 1 appearance in the Nice goal and the 21-year-old distinguished himself as he made a superb stop to keep out a Yacouba Sylla header from a Ludovic Baal free-kick.
Chances were at a premium and a Wallyson shot with the outside of the left boot before the half-hour was always heading wide of Abdoulaye Diallo's post.
Ben Arfa, playing in a roaming front role, enlivened proceedings with his adhesive close control and ambition. At the end of a driving run he let fly with his right foot from the edge of the box and Diallo got down to his right to make a comfortable save.
Ben Arfa was just warming up and eight minutes after the interval he added another stunning goal to his collection, his fifth strike in three Ligue 1 games and one which saw him join Michy Batshuayi at the head of the division's scoring chart on seven.
Receiving the ball in the inside right position, the French international bamboozled Armand with his quick feet before finishing right-footed. A member of France's Euro 2012 squad, Ben Arfa's recent form has led to calls for an international recall ahead of Euro 2016 on home soil and seven goals represents a personal best haul in a league season.
Polish international Kamil Grosicki shot wide as Rennes attempted to pull one back and extend an unbeaten streak stretching back to the opening day of the season.
Those hopes were extinguished 15 minutes from time when Ben Arfa's low cross was pushed out by Diallo only as far as Mahamane Traoré and the midfielder, who had been there at the beginning of the move, converted with glee.
Goal-hungry Nice added a fourth for good measure in the 80th minute as Traoré's fellow substitute Saïd Benrahma scored with a magnificent curling shot after a short corner routine.
Such had been the quality of Ben Arfa's play that he was given a standing ovation by the Rennes fans when replaced by coach Claude Puel's son Paulin five minutes before the final whistle.
Grosicki scored a consolation for Rennes in the 88th minute, denying Cardinale a clean sheet on his debut. Juan Fernando Quintero applied the assist, but this was Nice's - and Ben Arfa's - night.