BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Colombia came back from conceding three goals in the opening half hour to draw 3-3 at home to Chile and secure a berth in the World Cup finals for the first time since 1998 on Friday.
The draw kept Colombia in second place in the South American group behind leaders Argentina, who qualified last month, and ahead of Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay, three teams vying for the other two automatic places in the 2014 finals in Brazil.
Ecuador beat Uruguay 1-0 at home in Quito to leave the 2010 semi-finalists in fifth place which will send them into a playoff against Jordan next month if the positions stay the same after Tuesday’s final round of matches.
Argentina had 29 points before their match at home to eliminated Peru in Buenos Aires, with Colombia on 27, Ecuador and Chile 25 and Uruguay 22.
Chile went ahead with a penalty by Arturo Vidal in the 19th minute after striker Eduardo Vargas was brought down.
Alexis Sanchez then scored twice in seven minutes to stun the Colombians and put Chile three up inside the opening half hour.
Teo Gutierrez pulled one back in the 69th minute and fellow striker Radamel Falcao added two penalties in the last 15 minutes to secure Colombia the point they needed.
Jefferson Montero put Ecuador ahead when he ghosted in behind Maxi Pereira to steer the ball home after goalkeeper Fernando Muslera failed to cut out Antonio Valencia’s cross.
In the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal, Paraguay ended Venezuela’s slim hopes of reaching their first finals with a 1-1 draw that left them on 20 points after their 16 matches.
Additional reporting by Alexandra Valencia in Quito, Alexandra Ulmer in Santiago, Diego Ore in Caracas; Editing by Greg Stutchbury