The Copa Libertadores last 16 got underway on Tuesday and despite being underdogs in their tie against holders Grêmio, Estudiantes managed a 2-1 win in Quilmes.
Despite ending the game with ten men, Estudiantes held on to their advantage and although Grêmio claimed a vital away goal, El Pincha will take confidence from how they had the Brazilians on the ropes during the first half.
Even with midfielder Arthur now at Barcelona it was thought Grêmio would have too much for an Estudiantes side that scraped out of their group and have struggled in the league but it was Leandro Benítez’s side that made a flying start.
Academy product Juan Apaolaza opened the scoring after eight minutes with a stunning strike into the top corner from the edge of the box and after a strong penalty shout for handball against defender Geromel was turned away, Estudiantes doubled their lead.
Fernando Zuqui whipped in a corner from the left and Gastón Campi rose to glance ta header past goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe.
Grêmio responded and pulled a goal back before the break. Mariano Andújar saved well from an initial header but Argentinian Walter Kannemann was alert to nod the rebound into the net.
As the Brazilians increased the pressure in the second half the impressive Zuqui was shown a second yellow card but Estudiantes managed to hold on.
The sides meet again in Porto Alegre on August 28 with a quarter final tie against either Atlético Nacional or Atlético Tucumán on the horizon and despite being behind Kannemann’s goal perhaps still makes Grêmio favourites.