Playing at the extreme altitude of Bolivia is never easy and while Estudiantes perhaps didn’t deserve victory, an excellent display from goalkeeper Mariano Andújar and a little bit of luck saw Gustavo Matosas’ side earn a significant 1-0 win over Nacional Potosí.
Perhaps as expected Estudiantes were on the back foot for much of the Copa Sudamericana last 32 first leg and only a string of saves from former Argentina internatioanal Andújar and the post, denied the home side taking the lead.
The turning point came with twenty minutes remaining when Edson Pérez foolishly reacted to Mariano Pavone and the experienced centre forward, making his first start since returning to the club, made sure that referee Wilmar Roldán thought a severe punch had been delivered to his midsection. Writhing in agony despite minimal actual contact, Roldán brandished a red card and it was with the man advantage that Estudiantes seized the initiative.
Santiago Ascacibar found himself uncharacteristically far forward and his low cross bobbled around before Lucas Rodríguez poked in the only goal of the game.
Back at sea level in three weeks, Estudiantes will now be firm favourites to finish the job and take their place in the last 16, where either Nacional or Olimpia await.