Colombia joins Argentina on top of CONMEBOL

Colombia moved to within touching distance of its first World Cup appearance since 1998 after a 1-0 home victory against Ecuador on Friday in World Cup qualifying.

A first-half goal from James Rodriguez was enough for Colombia, while Ecuador was reduced to 10 men just three minutes before the goal and missed a second- half penalty kick that would have leveled the contest.

The result moves Colombia into a tie with Argentina for the top spot in the group, while the team is at least assured of a top-five place.

Heavy rain forced the match to be delayed for 90 minutes, and Ecuador played with 11 men for just 28 minutes before Gabriel Achilier was sent off for bringing down Colombia's Teofilo Gutierrez as he charged clear on goal.

The home side tallied the lone goal just a few minutes later as Radamel Falcao's long-range shot could only be parried by Ecuador goalkeeper Maximo Banguera, allowing Rodriguez to score from a tight angle on the rebound.

Ecuador had a chance to steal a point in the second half when Antonio Valencia was brought down by Colombia's Carlos Sanchez inside the penalty area.

However, Walter Ayovi stepped forward and fired wide of the left post from 12 yards, leaving his team in fourth place.

Chile climbed into third after a 3-0 home win over Venezuela that saw the hosts score twice in the first half hour.

Eduardo Vargas notched the opener in the 11th minute and Marcos Gonzalez was on target in the 30th before Arturo Vidal capped the scoring five minutes from time.

Paraguay hammered Bolivia, 4-0, in a battle of the bottom two sides, while Uruguay got a goal in each half from Luis Suarez to top Peru, 2-1.