Red Star Belgrade 0-1 Arsenal: Late Olivier Giroud strike seals Gunners victory
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 20/10/17 11:13am
A superb strike from Olivier Giroud snatched a late win for Arsenal as they edged past Red Star Belgrade 1-0 in the Europa League on Thursday.
The victory sees the Gunners maintain their perfect record in the competition as they top Group H with the maximum nine points, but had to wait for a moment of magic from Giroud to seal their third successive win.
Five minutes after Red Star had Milan Rodic sent off for a second yellow card in the 80th minute, the French striker produced an acrobatic overhead kick to snatch the win for Arsenal.
Thursday's hosts slip down to third in the group after BATE Borisov's 1-0 win against Cologne in the other fixture in Group H saw them leapfrog Red Star into second spot.
Red Star Belgrade: Borjan (6), Le Tallec (6), Rodic (4), Stojkovic (5), Savic (6), Krsticic (6), Kanga (7), Donald (5), Radonjic (5), Srnic (5), Boakye (5)
Subs used: Babic (5), Pesic (5), Gobeljic (5)
Arsenal: Cech (7), Debuchy (6), Holding (6), Elneny (6), Maitland-Niles (6), Coquelin (6), Nelson (8), Willock (6), Wilshere (8), Giroud (6), Walcott (7).
Subs used: McGuane (n/a), Sheaf (n/a)
Man of the match: Reiss Nelson.
Chances were mostly at a premium during the first half, and it took 15 minutes for Arsenal to catch the first sight of goal. Theo Walcott collected a poorly-defended free-kick from the hosts before shooting from 10 yards out, but Red Star goalkeeper Borjan did well to save with his legs.
Red Star could have opened the scoring 11 minutes later when a corner was whipped in and club top scorer Richmond Boakye met it with a free header, but he could only direct his effort into the floor before it smashed onto the underside of the crossbar and went wide.
Arsenal made 10 changes their defeat to Watford. Mathieu Debuchy was included in the starting XI, making his first appearance in 11 months.
Arsenal started well in the second half and had a few good chances in quick succession. Both Walcott and Giroud dragged efforts wide just after the restart before Reiss Nelson saw a fierce shot palmed away at the near post by Borjan. Petr Cech was also called into action at the other end as he saved a stinging effort from Nenad Krsticic.
Red Star finished the game with 10 men when Rodic was sent off in the 80th minute. He picked up a second yellow card of the game after rising for the ball with Francis Coquelin and appearing to catch the Frenchman in the face. Coquelin went to ground as Rodic was given his marching orders.
Arsenal were able to make their man advantage count when they finally found the breakthrough five minutes later thanks to a sublime goal from Giroud. After some great play between Jack Wilshere and Walcott, the latter headed the ball across goal for the French striker who produced an acrobatic overhead kick to seal a late victory for the Gunners.
- Arsenal have won their last four Europa League/UEFA Cup away games, after losing five of the previous six (D1).
- Arsenal are only the second English side to win at Red Star Belgrade in European competition (D2 L5), alongside Bolton in December 2007 in the UEFA Cup.
- Olivier Giroud has been directly involved in eight goals in his last eight starts in Europe for Arsenal (seven goals, one assist).
- Theo Walcott's assist was his 11th for Olivier Giroud in all competitions; only Mesut Ozil has provided more assists for the Frenchman (15).
Man of the match - Reiss Nelson
The trip to Serbia in an intimidating atmosphere could have been one that overwhelmed some young players, but Nelson did not look out of place and produced a solid performance despite being only 17 years-old.
He looked good going forward for the Gunners and tested Red Star stopper Borjan or more than one occasion. He is one to keep your eye on as Arsenal progress in cup competitions this season.
Arsenal are in action live on Sky Sports this weekend when they travel to fellow Europa League side Everton on Nissan Super Sunday.