Uruguay's position on top of the table in CONMEBOL 2014 World Cup qualifying is in jeopardy, and it's becoming apparent that no one is safe in South America's World Cup qualifiers. They were dominant for most of their match against Venezuela in Montevideo on Saturday, but let in a bad own goal late to drop points in a 1-1 draw.
Venezuela defended well to start the match, but they offered very little going forward in the first half while Diego Perez bossed the midfield for Uruguay. Even though the home side didn't create too much in the way of clear-cut chances, they were so dominant that an eventual goal seemed inevitable throughout the half, and they finally grabbed it in the 39th minute.
Most of Uruguay's attacks had been going through Maxi Pereira on the right flank, but it was Alvaro Pereira on the left who eventually set up the goal. His assist was a great diagonal into the box, and Diego Forlan timed his run perfectly to stay onside, then blow by the defense to get on top of it. He took a great first touch, then placed a difficult finish past Renny Vega to give his team the lead.
His fellow strikers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez didn't have the best of games, and as the second half wore on they started to look a bit lethargic. Cavani had one good opportunity, a low shot from 12 yards in the 50th minute, but Vega made a stunning reaction save to keep his team in the game.
Venezuela only threatened on long balls and set pieces throughout the match, but eventually got lucky. As a bit of a precursor to the goal, Diego Lugano picked up an injury and was replaced by Sebastian Coates in the 78th minute. Though Coates didn't make a mistake on the goal, Uruguay's defense almost certainly suffered from abruptly losing their leader 12 minutes from full time.
Tomas Rincon set up the 83rd equalizer, putting a dangerous cross into the center of the penalty area. Solomon Rondon got between two defenders and rose to meet it, but whiffed on his header. The ball went by him and hit Diego Godin, who did not see it, and then redirected into the back of the net to give Venezuela an incredible equalizer. Perhaps more importantly for them and all of their competitors, it denied a previously surging Uruguay two points that they would have had otherwise.
Venezuela created very little in this match, but the result is part of a trend that's probably going to continue. They can defend, they're dangerous on set pieces, they have physically talented strikers and players that can cross. They can't match Uruguay for talent and they were outplayed on Saturday, but they looked like they belonged on the same pitch with them throughout the match, and it wouldn't be surprising if their gameplan continued to be effective throughout qualifying.