Despite a less than exhilarating second half (the first half was less than inspiring as well), Arsenal came up with the goods towards the end to secure maximum points.
This half saw the three-time Serbian SuperLiga champions start much the brighter side as Richmond Boakye came close to opening the scoring for his side, but saw his headed effort hit the post with a whipped corner from Nenad Krsticic. Boakye was unlucky not to score as well as he was left to roam free in the box!
The home side continued to pressure and another opportunity to break the deadlock when Slavoljub Srnic found Nemanja Radonjic who shot at goal but was foiled by Petr Cech. (If not for him, Arsenal could well have been 2-0 down)!
In the second half, Arsenal saw the first bright spark from youngster Reiss Nelson as he attempted (and succeeded) to find space for himself to shoot at goal, but saw his effort parried by the goalkeeper, Milan Borjan.
The Serbian outfit continued to threaten soon after when Krsticic headed a great cross straight at “safe hands” Cech. The threats from them didn’t stop there as Cech was called into action with a fine save when Radonijc was blindly given an opportunity from Mohamed Elneny. Thank goodness Cech was there to mop up the mess the Egyptian midfielder had made!
The main flashpoint of the half was the sending off of Milan Rodic for a foul on Francis Coquelin. Whilst I thought it was a soft challenge, the decision for his sending off was justifiable.
With five minutes of the game to go, the deadlock was broken by none other than Olivier Giroud! Great build-up play by Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott who laid off for the French striker to finish off a fantastic move!
Thoughts on the game
I expected the Serbian side to come out fighting and that’s exactly what they did. Ultimately, they paid the price for not putting away their chances, hence why Arsenal struck late on.
I felt Rodic’s red card was harsh, as there was very little in there to warrant a red card. Also, Coquelin seemed to play up to the challenge a little bit.
The result sees Arsenal maintain top spot in the group, five points clear of BATE Borisov who beat FC Koln.
Next for Arsenal is a trip to Goodison Park, whilst Red Star Belgrade host Mladost Lucani.
Featured Image Credit: ctwino