THE DAY REPLAYED - Uruguay were the big winners as the South American qualifying competition for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ continued on Saturday. The Charrúas shot up to fourth in the table after ending Colombia's unbeaten record with an historic 1-0 victory in Bogota. Elsewhere, Brazil gained a crucial 3-0 win on the road in Chile to move second, Argentina and Paraguay shared the spoils in Buenos Aires, and Ecuador and Peru both prevailed in their matches.
FIFA.com picks out the highlights from the weekend's five games.
Argentina and Paraguay served up a vibrant encounter to keep the fans warm on a chilly, rainy afternoon in Buenos Aires. And as has been the case on their four previous meetings in the Argentinian capital, the two had to be content with a draw. The 1-1 result means the Albiceleste have now gone four games without a win, although having gone a goal down in the first half and lost goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri to injury and Carlos Tevez to another red card, the hosts can take plenty of encouragement from a fine second-half comeback. Gerardo Martino's side failed to capitalise on Argentina's travails, coming up just short in their bid to record a win in Buenos Aires for the first time. That said, the point was enough for the Albirroja to stay top of the section.
Uruguay did not play entertaining football, but their intelligent gameplan secured them a first-ever win on Colombian soil. Showing admirable powers of concentration, Oscar Tabarez's men made the most of Sebastian Eguren's well-executed header to sneak into third place, for the time being at least. Los Cafeteros coach Jorge Pinto will have been disappointed by his side's lack of punch up front, however, as they passed up an excellent opportunity to move second behind leaders Paraguay.
Opportunities have been few and far between for the powerful 29-year-old striker at international level. The Cienciano player was determined to make an impact against Venezuela, though, and did just that by scoring the decisive goal and also hitting the bar in a courageous display that bodes well prior to Argentina's visit to Lima on Wednesday.
Brazil put their recent troubles behind them to record a comforting 3-0 win on the road against Chile. Luis Fabiano and Robinho put the visitors two in front in the first half, in which Ronaldinho also missed a penalty. After a send-off for each side, Luis Fabiano completed the rout in the 83rd minute, to send Brazil up to second place in the table.
Ecuador are on the up. Sixto Vizuete and his charges needed three points at home to Bolivia to continue their recovery after a faltering start to the qualification campaign, and earned them with a comfortable 3-1 win. On top throughout, the Tricolor capitalised on Alejandro Gomez's early dismissal when Felipe Caicedo put them ahead. Although the ten-man Bolivians, who have now lost five out of seven, pulled level through Joaquin Botero just before the interval, Edison Mendez and Cristian Benitez made sure of victory for the home side after the restart. With a mere four points to their name, Bolivia's hopes of reaching South Africa 2010 are slim.
Peru secured their first win when they beat Venezuela 1-0 thanks to Piero Alva's fine individual effort six minutes from half-time. The three points helped Jose del Solar's side climb off the bottom. Now lying just one place above their opponents, the Vinotinto rarely threatened and were a shadow of the side that won in Ecuador and drew in Uruguay. With a daunting trip to Paraguay on Tuesday, the Venezuelans need to recover quickly.
The numbers game
4 - The number of games Ecuador have now gone unbeaten since Sixto Vizuete took over as coach. After suffering three consecutive defeats at the start of the qualifying competition, they have moved into contention by beating Peru 5-1 and Bolivia 3-1 and picking up creditable draws against Argentina and Colombia.
The eighth round of games take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, with leaders Paraguay hosting Venezuela, Uruguay entertaining Ecuador and Chile welcoming Colombia. Argentina will hope to get back to winning ways when they travel to Peru, while Brazil take on Bolivia in Rio de Janeiro.