Yerry Mina’s late equaliser earned hosts Colombia a 2-2 draw and a point against Uruguay in a gripping CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying contest on Tuesday.
In a thrilling finale in Barranquilla, Uruguay thought they had secured a smash-and-grab victory after Luis Suarez gave the visitors an unlikely lead with 17 minutes remaining with his 47th international goal.
But Colombia huffed and puffed and deservedly restored parity in the 84th minute at Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez via Mina, who steered a looping header over Fernando Muslera to open his international account.
The second half had been evenly poised after Abel Aguilar’s 15th-minute opener was cancelled out by Cristian Rodriguez 12 minutes later.
With the draw, South American leaders Uruguay remain top – for now – three points clear of fourth-placed Colombia.
Colombia made one change for the visit of Uruguay, with Macnelly Torres getting the nod ahead of Wilmar Barrios in midfield following last week’s 1-0 win over Paraguay, while David Ospina continued to wear the captain’s armband in the absence of injured skipper James Rodriguez.
Uruguay were forced into a change of their own as Matias Vecino came in for the suspended Nicolas Lodeiro, who picked up a yellow card in the 3-0 victory at home to Venezuela last time out.
Colombia made a fine start to proceedings in front of a sea of yellow and they were soon rewarded for their efforts.
With a quarter of an hour played, Colombia hit the front after Aguilar’s perfectly-placed header into the far corner left Uruguay goalkeeper Muslera helpless.
While Colombia enjoyed the better of the opportunities, torrential rain seemingly levelled the playing field, with Uruguay eventually benefiting from the heavy downpour in the 27th minute.
Rodriguez restored parity with a powerful header from a set-piece, and the goalscorer copped a knock to his head for his efforts.
Uruguay finished the second half strongly and only Ospina stood between the visitors and a lead at the interval after the keeper somehow kept out Edinson Cavani’s close-range effort in additional time.
Colombia emerged from the break reenergised and reinvigorated as they came within a whisker of reclaiming the lead just a minute after the restart but Diego Godin managed to block Santiago Arias’ shot on the line.
The Colombians continued to press Uruguay further and further back, with Suarez and Cavani non-existent and isolated in attack, until the former put Uruguay ahead against the run of play in the 73rd minute.
Cristhian Stuani flicked the ball into the path of Suarez and the Barcelona star manoeuvred himself into position, outmuscling his opponent and firing his shot low and hard past Ospina, but C
olombia were not to be denied a point as Mina steered a header over Muslera.