Argentina qualified for the World Cup in the best possible manner on Wednesday, with a 3-1 home win over arch-rivals and world champions Brazil.
Colombia and Chile won home matches for the second time in five days, beating Ecuador 3-0 and Venezuela 2-1 respectively, to boost their chances of emerging from the 10-nation South American qualifying group.
- Images: World Cup Qualifiers
Meanwhile Paraguay, thumped 4-1 by Brazil on Sunday, reversed the scoreline against Bolivia to stay in contention.
Argentina stunned their opponents in Buenos Aires by rushing to a 3-0 halftime lead with two goals from striker Hernan Crespo, who took his tally in the tournament to seven, and a world-class strike from Juan Roman Riquelme.
Brazil recovered to dominate the second half, pulling one back with a trademark Roberto Carlos free kick and hitting the post through Adriano in the 84th minute.
Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said: "Beating Paraguay wasn't paradise, so this isn't hell. Our target is still intact."
Argentina lead the standings with 31 points from 15 games and secured their place in Germany with three matches to play.
Brazil, the only country to have played at all 17 World Cups, are second on 27 and need only three more points to maintain their proud record.
Ecuador (23), Paraguay (22) and Colombia and Chile (20) appear to be fighting for the other two direct places or fifth spot, which earns a two-leg play-off against the winners of the Oceania region.
Uruguay (18), who drew 0-0 in Peru on Tuesday, still have an outside chance while Peru (15), Venezuela (15) and Bolivia (13) are effectively out of the running.
Brazil paid dearly for a shoddy start when they left Crespo all alone to open the scoring in the fourth minute.
That was followed by an unstoppable second from Riquelme in the 18th minute, when the Villarreal player slipped past Roque Junior and scored with a rising shot from 25-metres.
Crespo added the third in the 40th minute when he beat Roque Junior to Javier Saviola's near post cross to head the third.
A rocketing Roberto Carlos free kick brought Brazil to life in the 72nd minute and the River Plate crowd held their breaths when Adriano had a clear-cut chance with six minutes left but fired against the post.
There were also some quality goals in Barranquilla where midfielder Tressor Moreno scored twice in the first ten minutes to spark Colombia's win.
He rifled home a loose ball in the sixth minute and produced a 25-metre scorcher three minutes later after Juan Pablo Angel chested the ball into his path.
Martin Arzuaga, who plays for local club Atletico Junior, added the third in the 70th minute, two minutes after coming on as substitute.
Luis Jimenez scored in the 30th and 60th minutes to put Chile in command against Venezuela, but the visitors pulled one back with Ruberth Moran's sixth goal of the qualifiers with seven minutes to go.
The defeat virtually ended Venezuela's brave attempt to reach their first World Cup.
"We suffered too much at the end," Chile coach Nelson Acosta said after the second game of his second stint in charge.
"We missed three goals at the start of the second half which would have finished them off."
Carlos Gamarra, Roque Santa Cruz, Julio Cesar Caceres and Jorge Nunez shared the goals as Paraguay sent hapless Bolivia to their eighth straight away defeat in the group.
Bolivia, however, produced the best goal of the night, a 30-metre first-time effort from Gonzalo Galindo.