An 84th-minute strike by Salomon Rondon silenced the Centenario Stadium and gave Venezuela a 1-1 draw in Uruguay in the fifth round of FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers in South America.

It was a disappointing performance from the Copa America champions as they were way off their best form and struggled to threaten Renny Vega's goal. Midway through an uninspiring first half, Benfica's Maximiliano Pereira tested Vega with a long-range shot and the goalkeeper produced a great reaction stop to keep out a Diego Forlan header.

Six minutes before half-time Pereira escaped down the right and crossed the ball to Forlan, who controlled and opened the scoring with a left-footed shot.

In the second half, Uruguay only had one chance of note, a header by Diego Lugano well saved by Colo Colo keeper Vega. Venezuela coach Cesar Farias sent on Wolfsburg playmaker Yohandry Orozco and Nicolas Fedor, and it was the Getafe forward who provided the assist for Rondon to level with a header.

Uruguay coach Oscar Washington Tabarez said: "Nobody here is happy because we all want to win, but I think the result was fair. This shows the improvement of Venezuelan football. Congratulations to them." Pereira added: "The team have an unpleasant sensation. Despite not playing well, we controlled the match and to suffer a goal at the end was a huge blow."



We are very happy and proud of this result. I think we were very clever and never gave up.

Renny Vega, Venezuela goalkeeper

Vega said: "We are very happy and proud of this result. I think we were very clever and never gave up. That was the key." The result means that the Celestes and the Vinotintos each have eight points.

Chile grab win
Meanwhile, in La Paz, Chile recorded a valuable 2-0 away victory over rock-bottom Bolivia. As the Chileans struggled to acclimatise to the altitude early on, keeper Claudio Bravo saved his side on several occasions, notably from a Jhasmany Campos' free-kick and a Ricardo Pedriel header.

In the last move before half-time, Colo Colo midfielder Charles Aranguiz took advantage of a defensive mistake to open the scoring.

Chile started to control the game in the second half thanks to Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez, who was the subject of a hard tackle from Luis Gutierrez which earned the midfielder a red card. And seven minutes before the end, a good individual goal by Arturo Vidal of Juventus sealed the match for Chile.