Gunners reach Europa League knockouts despite draw

Red Star Belgrade held Arsenal to a goalless draw at Emirates Stadium, but a point was enough for Europa League progression for the Gunners.

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud appeared to strain his hamstring after leaping to a challenge but was fit to play as his side drew 0-0 with Red Star Belgrade.   -  AP

Arsenal qualified for the Europa League knockout stages despite failing to impress in a dour 0-0 draw against Red Star Belgrade at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.

A point proved enough to send Arsene Wenger's side through as BATE Borisov was beaten 5-2 away to Cologne, which remains bottom of Group H but still has a chance of advancing following its victory.

There were 11 changes to the Gunners side that beat Swansea City 2-1 in the Premier League on Saturday, goalkeeper Matt Macey making his European debut in an inexperienced line-up.

Macey did his part to secure the point, tipping a header from Vujadin Savic against the crossbar as Red Star threatened to take a surprise lead into half-time.

With impressive form in this competition not enough to earn Jack Wilshere an England call-up, his frustrations were deepened when Damien Le Tallec's goal-line clearance denied him a first club goal since May 2015.

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Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud combined in spectacular fashion to settle the teams' meeting a fortnight prior, but could not put their experience to use and find the breakthrough here, although Wenger's side can secure top spot by winning at Cologne on November 23.

France international Giroud appeared to strain his hamstring after leaping to challenge Mitchell Donald in the air, but it did not stop him getting into a great position in the 10th minute.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles surged towards the byline on the left side of the box before squaring for Giroud, whose first-time effort was blocked by Milan Borjan at the near post.

Arsenal controlled possession but found further chances hard to come by until Giroud was slipped in by Joe Willock, who did well to dispossess Donald, but was unable to lift his shot over the onrushing Borjan.

Wenger's side could have gone into half-time behind, though, had Macey not tipped a header from Savic against the bar after the Red Star centre-back followed up Nemanja Radonjic's blocked shot.

Richmond Boakye contrived to waste another chance before the break, failing to hit the target after racing in behind Rob Holding on a swift counter-attack.

Red Star sat back after the restart and Arsenal had two claims for a penalty go unawarded, the first after slight contact between Savic and Wilshere and the second when the defender inadvertently handled the ball.

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Milan improved considerably in the second half, moving the ball quicker and p

Arsenal continued to apply the pressure and a great combination between Maitland-Niles and Wilshere down the left ended with the latter seeing his goal-bound poke cleared in last-ditch fashion by Le Tallec.

Wenger sent Eddie Nketiah on for Willock in the 68th minute, but its two-goal EFL Cup hero failed to have the same impact as he did against Norwich City.

Boakye had an opportunity to snatch all three points with nine minutes remaining but he sliced wide of the near post, though the Serbian side celebrated keenly at the full-time whistle, having secured a point that moves it a point clear in second place.


Arsenal is unbeaten in its last 16 games in all competitions at the Emirates (W14 D2), however this was the first time since May that it failed to take all three points (2-2 vs Manchester City).
This was the first 0-0 Arsenal has been involved in at the Emirates since October 2016, when it 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 vs Barcelona in the Champions League).
Arsenal has not lost any of the nine home games it has played on a Thursday under Arsene Wenger (W8 D1), with the first of those being a 3-0 win vs Nantes back in 1999 (UEFA Cup).
Red Star, meanwhile, is the first Serbian team to keep a clean sheet away from home against English opposition since FK Partizan in August 2003 (1-0 vs Newcastle in Champions League qualifying).
Jack Wilshere made his first start at the Emirates in European competition since August 2014 (1-0 vs Besiktas in Champions League qualifying).


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