Chile 2, Uruguay 0
After struggling for much of 2012, Uruguay's fortunes didn't improve markedly on Friday with a draw against South American trailers Paraguay, and so on Tuesday manager Oscar Tabarez took the surprising step of sitting the misfiring Diego Forlan in an effort to find the answer to Uruguay's woes. Forlan may have been Uruguay's driving force at the 2010 World Cup and 2011 Copa America, but since then his form has dipped as precipitously as Uruguay's.
It was a move that saw Luis Suarez paired up top with Edinson Cavani, with the Liverpool striker looking to make a similar impact as when Chile traveled to Uruguay early in qualification and saw Suarez score four times. This time around, though, things didn't go quite so well for Uruguay—and they fell behind after only ten minutes when their defence engaged in a comedy of errors sequence that ended with Chile's Esteban Paredes bundling the ball home.
The defending Copa America champions were again well off the pace as they so often have been during World Cup 2014 qualifying, and they could easily have been down by two after 20 minutes. They also could have had a man sent off in the first half when Alvaro Pereira went in on Gary Medel out of control and with his studs showing, and were then lucky to keep Suarez on the pitch when the striker took a swing at Gonzalo Jara from a dead ball situation.
Uruguay did improve in the second half, having a clear handball shout turned down and seeing third-choice left back Alehandro Silva crack a shot off the crossbar from distance, but it would be difficult to argue that on the run of play they deserved a better result than what they got. And in the end, any doubts as to the outcome of the match were put to rest when Eduardo Vargas scored in the 78th minute.
It's a result that sees Uruguay leapfrogged by Chile and fighting with Venezuela for fifth in CONMEBOL—and facing the very real prospect of not even making the playoff between the fifth-placed South American side and the third-placed Asian side. It could get even worse for Uruguay if Suarez is handed retroactive punishment for his conduct towards Jara, something that would at the least see him miss their match against Venezuela on June 11th.
And no matter where Uruguay do end up when qualification ends, it might be time to stop expecting them to suddenly start performing as they were at the 2010 World Cup and 2011 Copa America. It might be time to accept that for the defending South American champions, this is the new normal.
For details on the rest of Liverpool's players involved in World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday, check out our look back at the day's UEFA action.