ALEXIS SANCHEZ grabbed Chile a vital winner on a night of incredible late drama in South American World Cup qualifying.
But Arsenal team-mate David Ospina dropped TWO clangers in the final two minutes against Paraguay as Colombia’s ticket to Russia 2018 went up in smoke.
Chile were looking edgy in Santiago when Ecuador’s Romario Ibarra converted from just inside the box to cancel out a Eduardo Vargas’ opener.
But Sanchez profited from woeful defending four minutes from time to net a close-range that lifts Chile from sixth to third in Conmebol qualifying.
Brazil were already assured of a top-four spot when they played out a 0-0 draw in Bolivia earlier this evening, although Argentina’s hopes hang by a thread after a goalless draw with Peru.
Uruguay had edged closer with a 0-0 draw in Venezuela – but later results mean they are almost certain to join the Samba nation.
It looked like Colombia were also heading for Russia when Falcao latched onto a through ball to put them ahead against Paraguay in the 79th-minute of their Baranquilla clash.
But a pair of handling errors from Ospina in the final two minutes means they now need a result against Peru next week.
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Arsenal keeper Ospina first dropped a cross that allowed Oscar Cardozo to level on 89 minutes.
But things got worse for Los Cafeteros when Ospina spilled another ball two minutes into injury time, allowing Antonio Sanabria to poke in.
The result breathed life into Paraguay’s own hopes of qualifying, which had looked remote until their winner.
With Uruguay almost certain to qualify, five other teams are vying for the two remaining automatic qualification spots.
The side that finishes fifth will play a two-legged play-off against New Zealand.
In Baranquilla, Paraguay almost took a first-half lead when Derlis Gonzalez fired Miguel Samudio’s low cross against the foot of the post.
Winger Edwin Cardona then tested Antony Silva from inside the area with a low shot.
But it was Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez that should have given Colombia the lead just after the half-hour mark.
James brilliantly controlled near the left corner flag before hooking a pass to Cardona, who flashed a centre across the face of goal.
But Sanchez lacked the finishing touch as he stuck out a leg to divert it just to the right of the woodwork.
Falcao has a header tipped away, with Juventus ace Juan Cuadrado also going close.
James saw a ball ricochet off his thigh and agonisingly wide of goal, before Colombia got the goal they deserved through Falcao.
But Ospina’a mistakes could see Colombia slip out of the qualification spots when it matters most – on Tuesday night.
REMAINING CONMEBOL QUALIFIERS
Brazil v Chile
Ecuador v Argentina
Paraguay v Venezuela
Peru v Colombia
Uruguay v Bolivia
Chile dominated their game as Antonio Valencia’s visitors fought hard to keep a hold on Gunners ace Sanchez.
But it was QPR flop Vargas, now with Mexican outfit Tigres, who tucked home their opener.
Chile’s lead looked in little danger until the visitors broke down the right and Ibarra converted.
Sanchez then proved his nation’s talisman yet again by slotting home into an empty net after Arturo Vidal had robbed an Ecuadorian defender on his own byline.