The big winners on matchday five of the South American qualifying competition were Paraguay, who recorded a commanding 2-0 win over Brazil. That result, coupled with Argentina's late draw against Ecuador in Buenos Aires, allowed the red and whites to consolidate their position as section leaders and move three points clear.
Elsewhere, Chile picked up a vital win in La Paz, while Venezuela and Colombia were delighted to come away with draws from their respective engagements in Uruguay and Peru. FIFA.com looks back on those games and the other results from another enthralling weekend of FIFA World Cup™ qualifying action in South America.
Match of the day
Paraguay 2-0 Brazil
Goals: Roque Santa Cruz 26, Salvador Cabanas 49
Paraguay had only ever beaten Brazil once at home in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match, but coach Gerardo Martino was so determined to repeat history that he lined up with an adventurous three-man front line featuring Nelson Haedo, Roque Santa Cruz and Salvador Cabanas.
The gamble paid off as La Albirroja outplayed the reigning Copa America champions, recording a victory that would have been even more comprehensive had it not been for the woodwork and a fine performance by Brazil keeper Julio Cesar. Making the Paraguayan performance all the more impressive was the fact they played the last 42 minutes with ten men after Dario Veron's dismissal.
Surprise of the day
Bolivia 0-2 Chile
Goals: Gary Medel 29, 76
A double strike from Gary Medel, the first of them a spectacular overhead kick, secured Chile three priceless points on their trip to La Paz, their second consecutive win in the Bolivian capital. Proving a cut above the hosts throughout, La Roja now lie sixth in the section, just behind Venezuela on goal difference. Defeat leaves the Bolivians' qualification hopes in the balance, while Marcelo Bielsa's rejuvenated side, who were indebted to an excellent performance from boy wonder Alexis Sanchez, are now entertaining serious hopes of gracing the biggest stage of all for the first time since France 98.
Player of the day
Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz
On an ordinary day Medel's daring double for Chile would have been enough to take the accolade, but even his goal heroics were overshadowed by a peerless display from the Blackburn Rovers target man. Santa Cruz was in unstoppable form against the Brazilians, scoring one and helping set up the other in his side's hugely impressive win in Asuncion.
The big striker put his side ahead halfway through the first half when he popped up at the far post to poke home a corner kick. Then, just minutes after the restart, his left-footed drive proved too hot to handle for Julio Cesar, leaving Salvador Cabanas to tuck away the loose ball. After a superb all-round display, the excellent Santa Cruz received a much-deserved standing ovation from the home fans when he was replaced ten minutes from time.
Argentina were just seconds away from losing their 15-year unbeaten home record on a chilly evening in Buenos Aires. A tactically disciplined Ecuadorian outfit silenced the Monumental when Patricio Urrutia fired them into the lead with just 22 minutes remaining. However, after coming on as a late substitute, Rodrigo Palacio saved the day for La Albiceleste, rescuing a point deep into injury time and boosting Argentinian morale for their midweek visit to Brazil. Despite collecting just one point out of the last six, Alfio Basile's men remain second behind Paraguay, while Sixto Vizuete's Ecuador side showed further signs of recovery to keep their hopes of climbing the table alive.
Uruguay failed to draw on the inspiration provided by a full house at the Estadio Centenario on Saturday and were held to a 1-1 draw by Venezuela, a result that has press and fans fretting again. La Celeste went into an early lead courtesy of a goal from captain Diego Lugano. But that was a good as it got for Oscar Tabarez's side, with Ronald Vargas levelling things up in the second half to give Cesar Farias plenty to celebrate in his official debut on the Vinotinto bench. The Venezuelans now have seven points in the bank and stay fifth. Should they remain there, they will go into a play-off against one of the representatives from the CONCACAF Zone.
Neighbours Colombia also secured a crucial away point as their bid to return to the FIFA World Cup finals after two abortive attempts gathers momentum. A 1-1 draw in Lima helped Jorge Pinto's team climb above Brazil into third and leave winless Peru rooted in the lower reaches of the table. Hugo Rodallega and Juan Carlos Marino were the men on target, both goals coming in the first half.
The numbers game
27 - That is how many years Colombia have gone without losing a FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Peru. Saturday evening's stalemate extended Los Cafeteros unbeaten run there to six, the Colombians having won twice and drawn four times on Peruvian territory since going down 2-0 on 16 August 1981.
What they said
"It's tough to play against Brazil with ten men for 45 minutes and that made the win even more outstanding. The team were very focused, and luck was on our side because we got the second goal straight after the dismissal. We are well on the way to qualifying now," Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino expresses his satisfaction with victory over Brazil.
Argentina's visit to Belo Horizonte to take on Brazil is the pick of the games on matchday six, to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday. Also catching the eye are Chile's trip to Venezuela and pacesetting Paraguay's away day in Bolivia. Completing the card are the Ecuador-Colombia and Uruguay-Peru clashes.