Paraguay may have already qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, but they showed no mercy to Venezuela on Saturday as they moved level on points with Brazil at the top of the South American qualifying table.

Second-half goals from Salvador Cabanas and Oscar Cardozo put the Guaranies in command before Salomon Rondon halved the deficit for Venezuela, for whom Nicolas Fedor missed a penalty. Their hopes of being in South Africa next summer are now all but over.

Cabanas threatened first for the visitors - who booked their South Africa 2010 place with a 1-0 win over Argentina last month - but his seventh-minute effort went too high. Paraguay went close again in the 24th minute with Cabanas once more involved. This time he set up Nelson Haedo Valdez, whose shot went just wide of the left post.

Cabanas was continuing to be a key influence on the game and 11 minutes into the second half he put the away side in front, finding the net with his left-footed shot having been set up by Osvaldo Martinez.

Cardozo made it two 11 minutes from time, rounding off a counter-attack after some fine individual skill from Edgar Benitez. Benitez beat two men before feeding the ball to Cardozo, whose shot was not his best, but still enough to beat the goalkeeper.

Venezuela could have been back in the contest four minutes later, but Justo Villar saved Fedor's penalty. Rondon did find the net for the Vinotinto two minutes later and they pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but it was not forthcoming as Paraguay joined Brazil on 33 points.

The Seleção will move clear at the top of the standings if they win away to Bolivia today.

Venezuela can still clinch a play-off spot in theory, but would need to rely upon a highly unlikely combination of results to do so. They must beat Brazil by a wide margin in midweek and hope several other results go their way.