The Copa de la Superliga kicked off on Friday evening and Newell’s Old Boys took a step towards the last 16 with a 1-0 win over Gimnasia in La Plata.
Both sides had created chances with Alan Aguerre in the Newell’s goal maintaining his league form to keep Gimnasia out and opposite number Alexis Martín Arias having to remain alert to stop the lively Maxi Rodríguez.
On the one occasion that Aguerre was beaten, defender Teodoro Paredes got back on the line to head clear Horacio Tijanovich’s effort and it looked as though the two would play out a stalemate.
However, Gimnasia midfielder Víctor Ayala was sent off eight minutes from time for a last-man challenge on Alexis Rodríguez and deep into stoppage time, Newell’s snatched it. Néstor Pitana spotted a handball against Franco Mussis as a Newell’s corner was flicked toward goal and in the 98th minute, Maxi cooly slotted in the winner.
With the away goals rule in place, Newell’s return to Rosario for next week’s second leg now favourites to set up a last 16 tie with Defensa y Justicia.
Earlier in Santa Fe, relegated Tigre battled to a goalless draw with Colón to leave their tie in the balance ahead of next Sunday’s second leg in Victoria.
Denied a spot in the Copa Sudamericana due to their slipping into the Nacional B, Tigre could still claim a Libertadores spot if they were to win the newly formed Copa and after finishing in eighth are certainly better than their position in the promedio suggests.
Tigre remain underdogs but probably shaded things against Colón and will be confident of getting a result at home to progress to the next round where either San Martín de Tucumán or Unión lie ahead.