Lionel Messi scored twice as Argentina booked their place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with a 5-2 thrashing of Paraguay last Tuesday.
Argentina captain Messi struck a penalty in each half as the South American giants, needing a point in the Paraguayan capital to be certain of qualification, made sure of their place in Brazil in an emphatic fashion by tearing into the home team from the blow of the whistle.
Earlier, second-placed Colombia missed their chance to clinch qualification after crashing 2-0 to Uruguay in Montevideo as Colombia’s celebrations were put on ice.
Colombia remain firmly on course to qualify however, requiring only a point from their final two fixtures to reach Brazil.
Uruguay (22 points) could still be mathematically overhauled by sixth-placed Venezuela (19 points), who kept their faint hopes alive with a 3-2 win over Peru, but it would require an unlikely sequence of results for the Uruguayans to be denied either automatic qualification or a play-off place against Asian surprise packet Jordan.
USA and Costa Rica became the first two teams from CONCACAF to qualify for the World Cup last Tuesday night. The Americans handed arch-rivals Mexico another 2-0 thumping in Ohio, while the Costa Ricans’ draw in Kingston against Jamaica was enough to send them through too.
Italy (Group B) and the Netherlands (Group D) became the first two European nations to qualify for the Mundial last Tuesday.
Germany (Group C), Switzerland (Group E) and Russia (Group F) also picked up important victories, and while they have not mathematically qualified, they can certainly begin to arrange their travel plans.
The penultimate match day in the European Zone will be October 11.