PUERTO LA CRUZ, Venezuela, June 19 (Reuters) - Striker Humberto Suazo scored twice, including a stoppage-time winner, to give Chile a 3-2 away win over Venezuela in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
The goals all came in the final 35 minutes of a pulsating match as Chile picked up their second away win in four days, vindicating coach Marcelo Bielsa’s controversial decision to field a young team and leave out several top players.
Giancarlo Maldonado put Venezuela ahead in the 59th minute, Chile replied with a Suazo penalty and a Gonzalo Jara goal and Juan Arango equalised for the hosts with 10 minutes left before Suazo struck again.
Chile, beaten 6-1 by Brazil in a Copa America match at the same stadium last year, moved level with Colombia on 10 points from six games in the 10-team group, one behind Argentina and three adrift of leaders Paraguay.
Brazil, beaten by Paraguay on Sunday and held at home by Argentina on Wednesday, are a modest fifth with nine points, followed by Uruguay on eight, Venezuela on seven and Ecuador on five.
The top four teams qualify directly for South Africa in 2010 and the fifth plays off against the fourth team from the CONCACAF region.
On a slippery pitch and in a passionate atmosphere, Venezuela enjoyed the early pressure but Chile, not afraid to attack away from home, gradually took control and created several openings before the break.
They continued to push forward after halftime and Jean Beausejour had a header cleared off the line by Leonel Vielma after a defensive mix-up.
Against the run of play, Venezuela went ahead when Maldonado’s low 30-metre free kick found its way through the Chile wall.
Suazo levelled in the 65th minute, firing a penalty into the roof of the net after Miguel Mea Vitali tripped Alexis Sanchez, and Jara swept in a free kick from Mark Gonzalez eight minutes later.
Arango equalised in the 80th minute, finding a gap between the near post and Claudio Bravo from Maldonado’s pass and Venezuela had two good efforts saved by the Chile goalkeeper as they threatened to snatch a winner.
Instead, Chile stole the points when Suazo drilled a low shot past Renny Vega from the edge of the penalty area in the second minute of stoppage-time.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Ed Osmond