Arsenal 0-0 Red Star Belgrade: Gunners qualify for UEL round of 32

Manuel Pellegrini wants to bring Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere to West Ham
Manuel Pellegrini wants to bring Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere to West Ham
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Jack Wilshere featured for Arsenal in Thursday’s draw with Red Star Belgrade

Arsenal sealed their place in the Europa League round of 32 with an unconvincing goalless draw with Red Star Belgrade at the Emirates.

The Gunners failed to replicate their victory over Red Star a fortnight ago, but a draw, coupled with Cologne’s victory over BATE Borisov, secured their passage to the knockout phase.

A much-changed Arsenal side controlled possession but conceded the best chances as Richmond Boakye spurned a gilt-edged opportunity in either half to claim a famous Red Star victory.

Having been omitted from the latest England squad, Jack Wilshere nearly gave Gareth Southgate food for thought with the winner, but Damien Le Tallec’s superb goalline clearance ensured the spoils were shared.

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Deal of the day

Having acrobatically clinched victory in Belgrade two weeks prior, Olivier Giroud nearly continued from where he had left off inside 10 minutes, but, after being found in the area by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, his low drive was straight at Red Star goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

As expected, Arsenal dominated the ball but as the half progressed the visitors grew into the game and drew two fine saves from Matt Macey, who turned Slavoljub Srnic’s 35th-minute shot behind before tipping Vujadin Savic’s header onto the crossbar a minute later.

The Gunners were fortunate not go behind before the break as Boakye fired wide after being played through on goal.

It took Arsenal until the 65th minute to register another attempt on the Red Star goal as Wilshere stormed into the area, took the ball of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and chipped towards goal, only for Le Tallec to hack the ball to safety.

Arsene Wenger turned to 18-year-old Carabao Cup hero Eddie Nketiah for a breakthrough but the chances fell to Theo Walcott, who fluffed his lines on two occasions.

With Arsenal pushing for a winner, Boakye spurned another glorious chance to win the game in the 80th minute, but his miss paved the way for Arsenal to stumble into the next round.