Olivier Giroud strikes late as Arsenal win in Belgrade
Olivier Giroud struck late on as Arsenal beat Crvena zverda 1-0 in Group H of the Europa League in Belgrade tonight.
The result makes it three successive wins for the Gunners in their Europa League campaign and they maintain their 100% record.
The match was played in front of a sell-out home crowd, who created a noisy atmosphere to inspire their players.
The Gunners took full advantage of Crvena being reduced to 10 men in the 80th minute. Rogic was sent off for two yellow card offences.
Olivier Giroud struck the decisive goal in the 85th minute. His bicycle kick found the back of the net after excellent approach work from Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott.
Only Petr Cech and Mohamed Elneny kept their places from the side which lost 2-1 to Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
There was a first start for Mathieu Debuchy in 11 months, after 16 minutes of action for Arsenal since November 2015. Mathieu Debuchy hadn’t played since picking up an injury against Bournemouth in November 2016; 326 days ago.
Youngsters Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock were also given another chance to impress.
Crvena started the match two points behind Arsenal and knew they top the group at the end of the evening with a win.
Arsenal enjoyed plenty of early possession, with Jack Wilshere looking threatening in the No 10 role. His through ball played in Theo Walcott on the right side of the penalty area, but he was crowded out after deciding not to shoot first time.
Walcott (14) then had a shot blocked by keeper Borjan after a Wilshere free-kick had been played into his path by Rob Holding.
Crvena carried a threat on the break as they looked to exploit space behind Arsenal’s wing backs with their pace in wide areas, particularly on the Gunners left-hand side.
The closest they came was a Mitchell (17) shot that went well wide of Cech’s goal.
The home side then stepped up their attacking threat.
Boakye (25) was twice denied. First at the near post by Cech. From the resultant corner he hit the crossbar with a header with Cech beaten.
The Gunners were increasingly being penned in.
Cech (31) was forced into a save from Radonjic and his follow up was blocked by Nelson and cleared. The chance was again created down Arsenal’s left-hand side.
The first half then fizzled out with neither side able to create an opening and the sides went into the break goalless.
Arsenal enjoyed 63% of possession in the first half, but Walott’s shot was their only effort on goal.
Elneny had to make a last ditch tackle in the first minute of the second-half to deny Srnic.
At the other end a Walcott miskick fell to Olivier Giroud on the edge of the six yard box, but he was only able to balloon the ball harmlessly into the air.
Nelson (49) then forced Borjan into a save at the near post.
Krsticic (50) then headed straight at Cech, as the match opened up.
Wishere set up Giroud, but his shot went over the bar.
Elneny (53) then made a mistake playing the ball across the penalty area without looking, but Radonjic’s powerful strike was denied by Cech who turned his shot behind for a corner.
Nelson (63) had a free-kick blocked by the wall, after Wilshere was fouled after an incisive run just outside the penalty area.
Cech (67) then held a Radonjic shot at his near post, after a lightening attack from the home side from an Arsenal corner.
Giroud (73) blazed a volleyed effort over the bar from a corner, as both sides looked for the opening goal that could settle the match.
Rodic was sent off in the 80th following an aerial challenge with Francis Coquelin. It incurred him his second yellow card of the match.
Giroud made the home side pay five minutes later after a fine build-up.
Wilshere played a one-two with Walcott.
Walcott headed it across goal, it fell for Giroud with his back to goal. His overhead kick went into into the top corner of he net.
Arsenal held off a late rally from the home side to claim all three points.
BATE Borisov beat FC Koln 1-0 in the other Group H match tonight.
Next up for Arsenal is a trip to Goodison Park to take on Everton on Sunday in the Premier League.
Arsenal: Cech 7, Debuchy 7, Elneny 7, Holding 7, Nelson 7, Coquelin 7 (Sheaf), Willoc7k (McGuane), Maitland-Niles 7, Walcott 6, Wishere 8, Giroud 6