The Frenchman's stunning, acrobatic goal secured a late win in Serbia for Arsenal in the Europa League.

By 90Min
October 19, 2017

Arsenal managed to scrape a slender 1-0 victory against Red Star Belgrade in the Serbian capital on Thursday evening, sending them five points clear of their opponents at the top of Group H.

Red Star surprisingly have something many Gooners will be envious of - a European Cup - and the last time the two teams met was back in 1978 in what was the UEFA Cup, with the Serbian side coming out on top.

Arsene Wenger opted for an unconventional back three of Rob Holding, Mohamed Elneny and forgotten man Mathieu Debuchy behind a young midfield including Reiss Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock. 

Red Star came out of the blocks fast, screamed on by a 55,000 capacity Marakana, but it was Arsenal who had the first real opportunity of the game as the ball fell kindly to the feet of Theo Walcott, his shot denied only by the sweeping leg of Red Star goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

The Serbian side looked extremely quick on the counter-attack but appeared to lack any end-product, although a corner in the 26th minute found Red Star's star striker Richmond Boakye unmarked, whose header bounced into the ground and off the post.

Four minutes later and a deep cross to the back post found Milan Rodic unmarked - and the Serbian had two bites at the cherry - his first effort parried by Petr Cech and his second blocked by the onrushing Nelson.

The teams went into half-time still at 0-0 but Nelson almost changed that shortly after the restart with a powerful drive which looked to be creeping into the corner of the net but for a smart stop from Borjan.

Red Star then responded by utilising the ball with more precision than they had done previously, patiently building up before swinging the ball into the box, but Nenad Krsticic's header was straight at Cech when he should have done better.

Red Star had to play the last ten minutes with ten men as Rodic received a soft second yellow-card for his stray arm colliding with Francis Coquelin in an aerial dual - the Frenchman appearing fine asking the bench for treatment before continuing to roll on the floor injured.

The Gunners made use of their man advantage in the 85th minute as Walcott played a beautiful one-two with Jack Wilshere before his header was acrobatically turned into the net by Olivier Giroud - the three senior players combining to take all three points back to London.

Arsenal appeared very flat without the influence of their main creative sparks Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil - but Wenger will be relieved he was able to win the game whilst saving his stars' stamina for Sunday's fixture at Everton.

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