Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hatem's Goal Was as Good as Messi; Messi Would Have Been Proud

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hatem's Goal Was as Good as Messi; Messi Would Have Been Proud

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil Cameron

NEWCASTLE star Papiss Cisse believes even the great Lionel Messi would have been proud to have scored Hatem Ben Arfa's sensational goal of the season.

The Senegalese striker, who got his side's second in their vital 2-0 victory over Bolton on Monday, for once had the spotlight taken off him by the French playmaker's mazy 70-yard run that saw him dribble past three opponents before scoring a spectacular opener. For Cisse to compare 25-year-old Ben Arfa's moment of inspiration, which sent St James' Park into raptures, with the undisputed best player in the world is perhaps the highest compliment that could be paid to any footballer in this era of the brilliant Argentine.

And while United's goalscoring machine didn't go as far as to suggest his team-mate is at the same level of the Barcelona superstar, who scored his 60th goal of the season last weekend, he was adamant the effort was Messi-like in its execution.

Even someone with a poor grasp of holiday French could work out what Cisse thought when he declared "c'est magnifique" when asked, through a translator, to describe it.

"It was a fantastic goal. I can't say that he is Lionel Messi yet as a player, but it was an incredible goal and would be worthy of Messi himself," said Cisse.

"Maybe, even he could not have scored that. It was such a memorable goal.

"I have certainly never scored one like that. Ever. I score more what you would call strikers' goals."

Shola Ameobi joined in with the praise being heaped on Ben Arfa (pictured left), who he revealed impresses his teammates on a daily basis.

He said: "Any club in the Premier League would love to see him do that for their team. He's such a talent. It's such a nice thing to have in your arsenal. For somebody to be able to do that, to run past players as if they weren't there and finish like that, is a joy to behold. …

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