Liverpool star Luis Suarez scored twice to give Uruguay a vital victory over Peru in South America's World Cup qualifying race on Friday as Colombia edged ever closer to next year's finals in Brazil.
Suarez, who has not played for Liverpool this year as he completes a suspension for biting picked up last season, struck a first-half penalty before curling home a long-range effort as Uruguay beat Peru 2-1 in Lima.
Jefferson Farfan pulled a late goal back for Peru to set up a nervous finish but Uruguay held on for a win which leaves them firmly on course to secure at least a play-off spot from South America's nine-team qualifying league.
The Uruguayans are in fifth place following the victory, three points clear of sixth-placed Venezuela having played one game less.
The top four finishers in South America qualify automatically while the fifth-placed side faces a play-off against either Jordan or Uzbekistan from the Asian qualifying tournament.
Earlier Friday, second-placed Colombia defeated Ecuador 1-0 in Barranquilla to move within touching distance of a ticket to Brazil.
A chaotic afternoon in the Colombian port city saw kick-off delayed for 90 minutes after a tropical monsoon deluged the Estadio Metropolitano.
The game was also disrupted by a floodlight failure at the break which delayed the start of the second half. Play was further held up for several minutes after Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina suffered a nasty head injury.
A first-half goal by AS Monaco striker James Rodriguez secured all three points for the Colombians, who are now guaranteed at least a play-off spot.
Both Colombia and Argentina, who did not play on Friday, can seal qualification next Tuesday.
Ecuador, who were reduced to 10 men early in the game when Gabriel Achilier was dismissed, could have snatched an unlikely draw if captain Walter Ayovi had not missed a second-half penalty.
The complexion of the game changed decisively on the half-hour mark when Ecuador were reduced to 10 men, Achilier sent off for bringing down Colombia's Teofilo Gutierrez as he sprinted clear on goal.
The dismissal energised the Colombians and within a minute they had taken the lead through Monaco youngster Rodriguez.
Monaco team-mate Radamel Falcao -- named in the starting line-up after recovering from an ankle injury -- unleashed a ferocious long-range effort which Ecuador's stand-in keeper Maximo Banguera could only parry away.
The rebound fell kindly to Rodriguez who rifled home an angled low shot to put Colombia 1-0 up heading into the half-time break.
Ecuador were then presented with a golden chance to get back on level terms when Colombia defender Carlos Sanchez hauled down Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia in the box on 61 minutes.
But Ayovi miscued his spotkick horribly and Colombia escaped to claim a win which puts them within reach of a first World Cup since their appearance at the 1998 finals in France 15 years ago.
With Chile defeating Venezuela 3-0 in Santiago to move up to third, Ecuador dropped down to fourth.
Chile's hopes of claiming one of the four automatic qualifying spots were given a huge lift thanks to goals from Eduardo Vargas, Marcos Gonzalez and Arturo Vidal.
Chile now have 24 points, two behind Argentina and Colombia although they have played one game more.
Ecuador remain in control of their destiny however, two points clear of fifth-placed Uruguay with three games remaining.
Elsewhere Friday, Paraguay moved off the bottom of the standings with a 4-0 thrashing of Bolivia in Asuncion.
Goals from Jonathan Fabbro, Roque Santa Cruz, Richard Ortiz and Gustavo Gomez secured the win for Paraguay but the victory is likely to have come too late to save the 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists from elimination.