Argentina secures qualification to World Cup with win over Paraguay
ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) -- Argentina qualified for the 2014 World Cup with a 5-2 win at Paraguay on Tuesday, becoming the first South American team beside host Brazil to be assured of a spot at the tournament.
Lionel Messi converted two penalties, while Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria and Maxi Rodriguez also scored for Argentina, which sealed its World Cup berth with two games to spare in South American qualifying.
Ariel Nunez and Roque Santa Cruz netted for Paraguay, which knew going into the game that its World Cup hopes had been ended by results earlier in the day.
Uruguay had a 2-0 home win over Colombia to move into fifth place, behind fourth-placed Ecuador on goal difference. The top four teams qualify directly for the World Cup while the fifth team reaches a further intercontinental playoff.
Edinson Cavani scored in the 77th for Uruguay, and Cristian Stuani added another three minutes later
Colombia's defeat prevented it from sealing its World Cup berth and it remains second, three points behind Argentina. Colombia is assured of finishing no lower than fifth, as is third-placed Chile, which did not play on Tuesday.
Venezuela won 3-2 at home over Peru, keeping alive its qualification hopes, sitting three points behind fifth-placed Uruguay.
Peru took the lead in the 20th minute through Paolo Hurtado but Salomon Rondon equalized for Venezuela in the 37th.
Cesar Gonzalez gave Venzuela the lead with a 62nd minute penalty, and Romulo Otero made it 3-1 to the hosts in the 77th. Carlos Zambrano pulled a goal back for Peru in the 87th but Venezuela held on for a vital win.
Tuesday's results meant Peru was also eliminated from World Cup calculations, as was Bolivia, which frustrated Ecuador by securing a 1-1 home draw.
South American qualifying now goes into a hiatus for a month, and upon resumption the key games will be Colombia vs. Chile and Ecuador at home against Uruguay.
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