(Reuters) - Uruguay failed to break down Venezuela in a 0-0 draw on Thursday and were left waiting to bag what looked a certain place at the 2018 World Cup finals.
The Uruguayans, second in the South American group behind already qualified Brazil (38), are on 28 points and will hope to secure their berth at the Russia finals when they host Bolivia on Tuesday.
The top four qualify automatically and the fifth-placed team go into a playoff with New Zealand.
Uruguay have a goal difference of +10 as opposed to +1 for both Peru and Argentina, who have 25 points after a 0-0 draw in Buenos Aires and could potentially join them locked on 28 points after next week’s matches.
Colombia and Chile, both with 26 points, hold the other two automatic qualifying berths with Peru in the fifth-place playoff spot having scored more goals than Argentina, who are now sixth.
In the unlikely event Uruguay were to lose heavily to Bolivia and Argentina, who travel to Ecuador, and Peru, at home to Colombia, rack up big wins, they could find themselves once again in a playoff.
Uruguay have secured the playoff berth in the previous four qualifying campaigns. They won three, and even went on to the semi-finals in South Africa in 2010, but missed out on Germany 2006 after losing to Australia over two legs.
Reporting by Rex Gowar; editing by Greg Stutchbury