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Gunners reach Europa League knockout phase

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Arsene Wenger and Co. would’ve liked to have scored, but Arsenal still managed to book their place in the UEFA Europa League knockout round.

[ MORE: Everton eliminated from UEL after falling 3-0 to Lyon ]

The Gunners settled for a 0-0 draw against Red Star Belgrade on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal currently topping Group H with 10 points through its first four matches in this season’s competition.

Wenger put out a largely inexperienced squad once again in the competition as the French manager continues to experiment with some of his younger players.

The Gunners certainly had their share of chances on the day, but Belgrade’s defense held strong in the key moments to preserve the draw.

Jack Wilshere had one of the best opportunities for the hosts after the hour mark when he shot appeared destined to go in the Belgrade goal, however, defender Damien Le Tallec’s timely goal-line clearance kept Arsenal off the board.

Next up for Arsenal in the Europa League will be Cologne on Nov. 23, while Belgrade will take on BATE Borisov that same day.

Video: Giroud gives Arsenal three points with superb overhead finish

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Red Star Belgrade posed a big test to Arsenal on Thursday, but it was Olivier Giroud that had the last laugh for the Gunners.

[ MORE: Atlanta’s Gressel is emerging as a legitimate MLS ROTY candidate ]

The Frenchman delivered in spectacular fashion five minutes from time when Giroud scored a makeshift-bicycle kick following Theo Walcott‘s headed pass inside the penalty area.

Arsenal went on to win the match, 1-0, and currently sits atop Group H in the UEFA Europa League on nine points through three matches.

Giroud, who went the full 90 minutes for the Gunners, has had a knack for scoring some fine goals in an Arsenal kit over the years. That includes last year’s tremendous scorpion-kick goal against Crystal Palace in Premier League play (watch below).

Europa League preview: Arsenal in Serbia, Everton desperate vs. Lyon

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The twelve groups of the UEFA Europa League bring forth soccer on Thursday, with a bevy of matches dotting the continent.

[ MORE: Full Europa schedule ]

Here are the top five matches to keep an eye on.

Everton vs. Lyon — 3:05 p.m. ET

If you would’ve told Ronald Koeman his Toffees would walk into this match with just one point but sit only another behind Lyon, he’d probably tell you to take a hike. But Lyon drew 1-1 at Apollon Limassol and 1-1 at home to Atalanta, opening the door for Everton to finish the day in Group E’s top two slots.

Nabil Fekir and Real Madrid loanee Mariano Diaz have seven goals each for Lyon, while ex-Premier Leaguers Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traore are also key components of the French outfit’s attack.

Red Star Belgrade vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET

Arsenal in Europa has been pretty thrilling, with 3-1 and 4-2 wins under Arsene Wenger‘s belt ahead of the first of two with the 1991 European Cup winners. It’s a nice challenge for Canadian national team backstop Milan Borjan, who should be the man to try to thwart the Gunners in Serbia.

Hoffenheim vs. Istanbul Basaksehir — 3:05 p.m. ET

The favorites to win the group are dead last in the group as they welcome the perceived group underdogs from Turkey. The Super Lig runners-up have some familiar names on the roster with Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Eljero Elia, Mevlut Erdinc, Gokhan Inler, Aurelien Chedjou, and Emre Belozoglu.

AC Milan vs. AEK Athens — 3:05 p.m. ET

Milan has been burying goals in Europa play, with five at Austria Wien and three in a home win over Rijeka. Enter Athens, which has scooped up four points in group play and will look for a win to put them ahead of the group-leading Rossoneri.

Nice vs. Lazio — 1 p.m. ET

The only group with a pair of 2-0 teams. Mario Balotelli is plenty familiar with his Roman opposition from his time in Serie A.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

Liverpool set to announce signing of Serbian teen Marko Grujic

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The ongoing rumors look to be true, as Liverpool is set to announce the signing of Marko Grujic from Red Star Belgrade.

The 19-year-old midfielder had been linked with a move to Anfield for some time now, although his father threatened to keep his passport and block a potential transfer earlier this month.

However, the player published a post on his Facebook page today stating, “On 4th January I will become a Liverpool player.”

[ MORE: Sunday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

Grujic will become Jurgen Klopp‘s first signing at Liverpool, as the Reds will reportedly pay $7.6 million for the midfielder. However, according to his club Red Star, he will stay in Serbia on loan for the rest of the season.

The teen has helped Red Star to a 25-point lead at the top of the SuperLiga, and was a member of the Serbian national team that won the FIFA U20 World Cup earlier this summer.