Arsenal 0-0 Red Star Belgrade: Gunners qualify for Europa League round of 32
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 03/11/17 7:39am
Arsenal sealed their place in the Europa League round of 32 with an unconvincing goalless draw with Red Star Belgrade at the Emirates.
The Gunners failed to replicate their victory over Red Star a fortnight ago, but a draw, coupled with Cologne's victory over BATE Borisov, secured their passage to the knockout phase.
A much-changed Arsenal side controlled possession but conceded the best chances as Richmond Boakye spurned a gilt-edged opportunity in either half to claim a famous Red Star victory.
Having been omitted from the latest England squad, Jack Wilshere nearly gave Gareth Southgate food for thought with the winner, but Damien Le Tallec's superb goalline clearance ensured the spoils were shared.
Arsene Wenger reverted back to the same team which won in Belgrade a fortnight ago, with the exception of Petr Cech, who started on the bench in place of Matt Macey. Red Star followed suit, making just one change as Marko Gobeljic came in for the suspended Milan Rodic.
Having acrobatically clinched victory in Belgrade two weeks prior, Olivier Giroud nearly continued from where he had left off inside 10 minutes, but, after being found in the area by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, his low drive was straight at Red Star goalkeeper Milan Borjan.
As expected, Arsenal dominated the ball but as the half progressed the visitors grew into the game and drew two fine saves from Matt Macey, who turned Slavoljub Srnic's 35th-minute shot behind before tipping Vujadin Savic's header onto the crossbar a minute later.
The Gunners were fortunate not go behind before the break as Boakye fired wide after being played through on goal.
It took Arsenal until the 65th minute to register another attempt on the Red Star goal as Wilshere stormed into the area, took the ball of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and chipped towards goal, only for Le Tallec to hack the ball to safety.
Arsene Wenger turned to 18-year-old Carabao Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for a breakthrough but the chances fell to Theo Walcott, who fluffed his lines on two occasions.
Arsenal: Macey (8), Nelson (7), Debuchy (6), Elneny (6), Holding (6), Maitland-Niles (6), Coquelin (6), Willock (7), Walcott (5), Wilshere (6), Giroud (6).
Subs: Nketiah (6)
Crvena Zvezda: Borjan (7), Stojkovic (7), Le Tallec (8), Savic (8), Gobeljic (7), Krsticic (6), Donald (6), Srnic (8), Kanga (7), Radonjic (7), Boakye (6).
Subs: Racic (5), Milic (5), Pesic (5).
Man of the Match: Matt Macey.
With Arsenal pushing for a winner, Boakye spurned another glorious chance to win the game in the 80th minute, but his miss paved the way for Arsenal to stumble into the next round.
- The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 16 games in all competitions at the Emirates (W14 D2), however this was the first time since May that they failed to take all three points (2-2 v Manchester City).
- This was the first 0-0 Arsenal have been involved in at the Emirates since October 2016, when they drew against Aitor Karanka's Middlesbrough in the Premier League.
- Arsene Wenger's side failed to score in a European home game for the first time since February 2016 (0-2 loss v Barcelona in the Champions League).
- Arsenal have not lost any of the nine home games they have played on a Thursday under Arsene Wenger (W8 D1), with the first of those being a 3-0 win v Nantes back in 1999 (UEFA Cup).
- Red Star, meanwhile, are the first Serbian team to keep a clean sheet away from home against English opposition since FK Partizan in August 2003 (1-0 v Newcastle in Champions League qualifying).
- Jack Wilshere made his first start at the Emirates in European competition since August 2014 (1-0 v Besiktas in Champions League qualifying).
0 - This was Arsenal's first 0-0 at the Emirates in European competition since November 2011 (v Marseille in the Champions League). Flat.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 2, 2017
Man of the Match - Matt Macey
Defenders ultimately won the day but the performance of Arsenal's young goalkeeper will have given fans something to cheer about on an otherwise subdued evening. Macey's two stunning first-half saves, especially the first to tip Savic's header onto the bar, proved crucial against a Red Star side who didn't look like conceding.
Arsenal return to Premier League action on Nissan Super Sunday when they travel to pace-setters Manchester City, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event.