After two games without a win, Marseille beat Saint-Etienne 3-1 and clinch the standings second spot behind Lyon and ahead of Bordeaux, who suffered a 1-0 loss in Nancy.
Hatem Ben Arfa made handsome amends for last weekend's dug-out tantrum when grabbing a penalty in Marseille's 3-1 win over Saint Etienne here on Saturday.
Ben Arfa, upset at not having being picked, refused to come on as a second-half substitute in Marseille's 4-2 loss to Paris Saint Germain but after a midweek public apology the influential playmaker this time let his feet do the talking.
Midfielder Benoit Cheyrou had put Eric Gerets' men into a 21st minute lead only for Bafetimbi Gomis to level seconds later before Ben Arfa converted a 38th minute spot-kick awarded when Bakary Kone was brought down by Saint Etienne keeper Jeremie Janot.
Former Lyon star Ben Arfa then conjured up a pinpoint corner for unmarked Nigeria defender Taye Taiwo to head past Janot to seal a win that lifted Marseille up into second, one point behind leaders Lyon who play Le Mans on Sunday.
This was just the job for Marseille who on Tuesday host PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League but as for former European heavyweights Saint Etienne, they headed home having failed to end their losing run at the Velodrome stretching back to 1979.
Gerets said afterwards: "I was pleased with Ben Arfa. His influence was, is and will always be magic because few players have his quality. It's just as well he took on the responsibility of the penalty, especially for our fans who showed they are the best in France."
Earlier Bordeaux, who went into the weekend lying second, failed to close the gap on Lyon with a 1-0 loss at struggling Nancy.
Three days ahead of their Champions League date with Cluj, Bordeaux lost out to Youssouf Hadji's second half strike to leave Laurent Blanc's side treading water three points adrift.
Fourth-placed Toulouse also fluffed their lines, falling 1-0 at home to Caen who had Benjamin Nivet's 79th minute goal to thank for the points in the Pyrenees.
Paris Saint Germain, 4-2 winners at Marseille's Velodrome stadium last weekend, lost 1-0 at home to Nice, this defeat hard to take as it came four days after their midweek reverse to Toulouse.
Paul Le Guen's misfiring team slipped to 10th. PSG's next opponents Lille won't be any pushovers after they maintained their unbeaten run stretching back to August 31 by dominating Nantes 2-0 to move into the top five.
Ludovik Obraniak opened the scoring in the 40th minute with Nicolas Fauvergue adding the second in the first minute after the break.
Elsewhere Grenoble and Lorient ended in a 1-1 draw while Auxerre and Valenciennes produced a flavourless goalless stalemate.
Date created : 2008-11-01