While Brazil recovered their poise, Argentina suffered a humiliating defeat on Matchday 12 in South America. None of the teams who prevailed at the weekend managed repeat wins, leaving the table looking tighter than ever. FIFA.com looks back on two days of action that showed nothing should be taken for granted on the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Match of the day
Brazil 3-0 Peru
Goals: Luis Fabiano 18 pen, 27, Felipe Melo 63
After starring in Quito on Sunday, Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar barely touched the ball in Porto Alegre. The hosts outclassed their opponents in virtually every department, returning to winning ways at home after three consecutive goalless draws. The two stars of the night were Robinho, who was at his creative best, and Luis Fabiano, the scorer of his side's opening two goals. Felipe Melo completed a comfortable evening for the Brazilians with a fine second-half solo effort as they climbed into second place. Peru remain bottom, meanwhile, their hopes of qualifying now gone.
Surprise of the day
Bolivia 6-1 Argentina
Goals: Marcelo Martins 11, Joaquin Botero 34 pen, 56, 63, Alex da Rosa 45, Didi Torrico 87 (Bolivia); Luis Gonzalez 25 (Argentina)
Not even the most fanatical of Bolivian fans could have imagined their side would secure such a comprehensive win in La Paz. After sidelining his big names against Colombia at the weekend, Bolivia coach Erwin Sanchez recalled them and was hugely rewarded as Argentina collapsed to a defeat that matches the most ignominious in their history: the infamous 6-1 thrashing handed out by Czechoslovakia at Sweden 1958.
The Argentinians had conceded only seven goals in their previous 11 games in the group, but had no answer to the duo of Botero and Martins, the scorers of 14 of their side's 19 goals in the qualifying campaign to date. Although Bolivia remain in penultimate position, their hopes of reaching South Africa have been revived, while the only consolation for Diego Maradona's men at the end of a harrowing afternoon is that they remain in the automatic qualifying positions.
Paraguay showed the Argentinians how to handle altitude by snatching a valuable point on their trip to Quito. La Albirroja were their usual combative selves in an entertaining 1-1 draw that so nearly went Ecuador's way.
After coming on for Joffre Guerron, Christian Noboa put the home side ahead with a powerful header midway through the second half. El Tricolor were denied a precious win when Salvador Cabanas brilliantly set up Edgar Benitez for the equaliser three minutes into stoppage time. That goal secured Paraguay's first ever point at the Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa and took Gerardo Martino's side one step closer to the finals. For the downcast Ecuadorians, meanwhile, it was a case of what might have been.
Chile and Uruguay's eagerly awaited meeting in Santiago ended goalless. La Roja enjoyed the better of the first half, with Alexis Sanchez being denied by the crossbar, while La Celeste were on top after the break. The Uruguayans failed to convert their chances however, and despite having a man sent off Marcelo Bielsa's men clung on for a point that takes them up to third and leaves Uruguay in the play-off place in fifth.
In the only game on Tuesday, Venezuela bounced back from their four-goal reverse in Argentina to record a first-ever home win over Colombia. The Venezuelans were indebted to Nicolas Fedor's 78th-minute tap-in and a sublime late free-kick from Juan Arango as they kept their slim hopes alive and dented the inconsistent Colombians' qualification bid.
Player of the day
Joaquin Botero (BOL)
El Camello (The Camel) proved why he is his country's highest scorer and the top marksman in the qualifying campaign with some clinical finishing to sink Argentina in La Paz. The 31 year old, who plays for Correcaminos in the Mexican Second Division, opened his account for the day with a coolly taken penalty and added a measured header and a left-foot finish to complete a memorable hat-trick.
The numbers game
7 - The number of minutes Chilean substitute Manuel Iturra was on the pitch for before being taken off against Uruguay. Marcelo Bielsa brought Iturra on in place of Jean Beausejour after 39 minutes but changed his plans at half-time, replacing him with Roberto Cereceda.
What they said
"We felt before that we needed six points to go through. We earned a great draw today, which means we only need five now. It's another little step towards qualification." Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino gives his verdict on the 1-1 draw in Quito.