Uruguay were held to a 1-1 draw with Paraguay on Saturday as their winless run in CONMEBOL qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup continued.
Uruguay finished fourth at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and after winning the 2011 Copa America, hopes were high for the future.
But they might not even reach next year’s event in Rio de Janeiro as they failed to win for the fifth competitive match on the trot.
After more than 80 tense minutes at Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez fired Uruguay in front.
Nicolas Lodeiro floated in a ball from the left and Suarez met it emphatically on the volley, thrashing a superb strike into the bottom left-hand corner with just eight minutes to play.
The goal sparked wild celebrations among the home fans but their joy was short-lived as Paraguay responded just four minutes later.
A hopeful long ball up the field was poorly dealt with by the Uruguayan defence, with substitute Edgar Benitez stealing in behind the back four.
And despite Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera charging out of goal, Benitez composed himself and fired into the back of the net with a smart left-foot finish.
Uruguay now have 13 points from 10 matches, leaving them fourth in the group, while Paraguay have just eight from the same amount of fixtures, and sit bottom.
The top four sides in South American qualifying will earn automatic entry to Brazil, while the fifth-placed side will enter an intercontinental playoff.
Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador are running away at the top of the group while Venezuela and Chile (12 points) and Peru (11 points) are also putting stress on Uruguay’s campaign.
Other results on Saturday saw Colombia thrash Bolivia 5-0 thanks to a superb second half in which they scored four goals.
Macnelly Torres gave Colombia the lead after 21 minutes and Carlos Valdes and Teofilio Gutierrez got in on the act after the break.
Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao also scored in the dying stages, as did substitute Pablo Armero.
Table-toppers Argentina won 3-0 against Venezuela thanks to a Gonzalo Higuain double, while Barcelona’s Lionel Messi scored.
And Peru were also on the winners’ list, edging Chile 1-0 thanks to Jefferson Farfan’s late strike.