The stage was set for one of the more dramatic World Cup qualifying nights in recent memory, and it delivered.
Lionel Messi was heroic for Argentina, netting a hat trick to bring his nation back from a deficit in the first minute in Ecuador and send the Albiceleste to Russia after a harrowing qualifying campaign.
Elsewhere, Chile, the two-time reigning Copa America champion, failed at Brazil, falling 3-0 and tumbling out of the qualification places. Colombia and Uruguay clinches the other two automatic World Cup berths up for grabs in South America, while Peru, riding the heroics of Paolo Guerrero, are still alive and will go to an intercontinental playoff against New Zealand for a final place in Russia. Venezuela did its part in helping Peru by stunning Paraguay, which could have worked its way into the top five with a win.
Here is how the places up for grabs wound up shaking out:
9-5-4 (31 points)
7-4-7 (28 points)
7-5-6 (27 points)
7-6-5 (26 points)
8-8-2 (26 points)
7-8-3 (24 points)
Here's how a wild night across South America played out:
GABRIEL JESUS FINISHES OFF CHILE
Gabriel Jesus scored his second of the night late to polish off Chile 3-0 and put a tremendous cap on Brazil's sensational qualifying campaign. Brazil wound up 12-1-5 in the CONMEBOL cauldron and will be one of the favorites to win it all next summer in Russia.
GUERRERO COMES TO PERU'S RESCUE
Peru's most storied veteran, Paolo Guerrero, fired his country into fifth place, scoring off a free kick in the 75th minute and bumping Chile down to sixth place in the live table.
MESSI FINISHES OFF HIS HAT TRICK
Lionel Messi simply put Argentina on his back Tuesday night, coming up with a vital insurance goal in Quito to give Argentina a 3-1 lead. At that moment, Argentina was safe in fourth place in the table.
SUAREZ FINISHES OFF BOLIVIA
Uruguay scored a third straight goal after conceding early, going up 3-1 through Luis Suarez, and the Barcelona frontman added La Celeste's fourth soon after. Uruguay can make its reservations for Russia.
Even a late Diego Godin own goal didn't put a damper on the night, with Uruguay in control, up 4-2.
JAMES PUTS PERU BACK OUT
James Rodriguez scored Colombia's opener in the 56th minute off a feed from Falcao, putting Peru back out of the qualification places after Brazil had helped by taking the lead over Chile.
BRAZIL DELIVERS DAGGER TO CHILE
Brazil is already qualified, but it has no problem spoiling Chile's qualifying efforts. Paulinho touched home a rebound after Dani Alves's shot was saved, giving the Selecao a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute. Moments later, Gabriel Jesus doubled the advantage, making it 2-0.
AT HALFTIME ACROSS THE CONTINENT ...
Peru is the odd one out with the current scores. Three goalless games and the 2-1 leads for Argentina and Uruguay have the Peruvians facing a tough fate with 45 minutes to play.
CACERES, CAVANI COME TO URUGUAY'S RESCUE
Martin Caceres scored a valuable goal for Uruguay before halftime, netting an equalizer in the 39th minute with a redirected chance from close range after the surprise early concession.
Edinson Cavani then seized the lead three minutes later, putting Uruguay back in the driver's seat for second place in CONMEBOL.
BOLIVIA TAKES SURPRISE LEAD ON URUGUAY
Uruguay could have punched its ticket with a win over Venezuela in the penultimate qualifier. Instead, it left everything for the finale, and it trails at home to Bolivia, which has long been eliminated, on an own goal from Gaston Silva.
MESSI SCORES HIS SECOND
Lionel Messi won't let Argentina die. La Pulga scored his second of the opening half in the 20th minute, putting Argentina in position to qualify based on the other results. In the live standings, Argentina is now up to third.
MESSI NETS MASSIVE EQUALIZER
Who else to come to the rescue for Argentina than Lionel Messi? Angel Di Maria set up the Barcelona superstar for a massive goal in the 12th minute, which brings Argentina back to life support, but still with work to be done. With other results as they currently are (all 0-0), Argentina is still on the outside looking in.
ECUADOR SCORES IN 40 SECONDS
Argentina needs a positive result, but less than one minute in vs. Ecuador, it's already on the back foot. Romario Ibarra scored 40 seconds in, and Argentina is facing an absolute disaster.
Here are the lineups for tonight's matches:
BRAZIL vs. CHILE
PERU vs. COLOMBIA
ECUADOR vs. ARGENTINA
URUGUAY vs. BOLIVIA
PARAGUAY vs. VENEZUELA
Here is the table entering the final matches of the round along with the schedule for the matches, with all kicking off at 7:30 p.m. ET:
8-5-4 (28 points)
8-7-2 (26 points)
7-5-5 (26 points)
7-6-4 (25 points)
6-4-7 (25 points)
7-7-3 (24 points)
*Brazil has already qualified as the top finisher. Finishers 2-4 are automatically in the World Cup, while fifth-place enters an intercontinental playoff vs. New Zealand.
Paraguay vs. Venezuela
Brazil vs. Chile
Ecuador vs. Argentina
Colombia vs. Peru
Uruguay vs. Bolivia