Visiting sides held the ascendancy in the latest round of qualifying matches in South America, with three of the four away teams in action on Saturday recording valuable wins on the road. Brazil downed Uruguay at the Estadio Centenario to take over as group leaders, Venezuela made history in La Paz, and Chile strengthened their qualification challenge with victory in Asuncion. The only visitors who failed to win were Colombia, narrow 1-0 losers in Argentina. FIFA.com tells the story of Matchday 13 in South America, which comes to an end on Sunday when Peru entertain Ecuador.
Unusually, Brazil went into this game with the tightest rearguard in the section and Uruguay with the most potent attack. And it was Dunga's defence who came out on top on this occasion, thwarting Uruguay's vaunted forward line to set up a handsome victory that moved the five-time world champions to the top of the section.
A Sebastian Viera mistake allowed Alves to open the scoring and though La Celeste exerted plenty of pressure thereafter, they could find no way past the excellent Julio Cesar. The Brazilians showed them how it was done at the other end, taking their chances in a clinical exhibition to claim their first ever qualifying win at the Centenario. Few would bet against them now taking their place in South Africa next year.
La Vinotinto made light of history to revive their qualification bid with an unlikely win in La Paz. Losers on their six previous visits to the Estadio Hernando Siles, the determined Venezuelans enjoyed some good fortune as they came away with the points, with Marcelo Martins missing a first-half penalty for the hosts before Rivero put through his own goal. A shadow of the side that had overwhelmed Argentina in April, Bolivia could find no way back, allowing Cesar Farias's men to boost their morale ahead of Wednesday's hugely important home game against Uruguay.
A battling Colombia side made Argentina sweat on a chilly evening in Buenos Aires. After struggling to hit top gear in a forgettable first-half display, the Argentinians secured the points when Daniel Diaz volleyed home from a corner. Confidence restored after their Bolivian disaster, Diego Maradona's charges, who now face an awkward trip to Quito, look well placed to advance to the finals, while Cafetero hopes are hanging by a thread.
Chile avenged their home defeat to Paraguay at the start of the campaign with a convincing 2-0 victory in Asuncion. Former Colo Colo team-mates Matias Fernandez and Humberto Suazo were the architects of the win, scoring either side of the interval as Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa got the better of his compatriot Gerardo Martino. La Albirroja have now gone three games without a win and drop down to second place, while the upwardly mobile Chileans climb up to third.
Player of the day
Julio Cesar (Brazil)
As strange as it may seem, the Inter Milan goalkeeper had a crucial part to play in his side's 4-0 win in Uruguay, showing his lightning reflexes and keeping Los Charrúas at bay whenever they pressed. Little wonder, then, that the 29-year-old has conceded fewer goals than any other keeper in the South American qualifying group.
28 - The number of years since Chile last won a FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Estadio Defensores del Chaco. The Chileans' previous triumph in Asuncion came on 7 June 1981, when Patricio Yanez scored the only goal in a 1-0 win.
What they said
"I don't know how Venezuela got on in La Paz but I bet they won. It's amazing. Everyone treats games against us like they were a final." Argentina forward Carlos Tevez correctly predicts Venezuela's win in Bolivia, the scene of a 6-1 defeat for La Albiceleste in their last outing.