SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - Ecuador was eliminated from World Cup contention after a 1-0 loss at Chile in the final round of South American World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday.
Humberto Suazo scored in the 53rd minute. Ecuador needed a victory to finish fifth and earn a playoff with the No. 4 team from North and Central America and the Caribbean.
A victory also would have given Ecuador a mathematical chance of qualifying automatically as the No. 4 team.
Argentina claimed fourth with a 1-0 victory at Uruguay. Uruguay finished fifth and earned the playoff.
Brazil, Paraguay and Chile had already gained the first three automatic spots. Argentina finished with 28 points in fourth place. Uruguay had 24 and Ecuador 23.
Already safely qualified for the 32-team finals in South Africa, Chile dominated the early exchanges against Ecuador with striker Suazo wasting several good opportunities.
Gary Medel also went close with a header saved by Ecuador goalkeeper Marcelo Elizaga.
"There a lots of young players on this team and we have to think about the future," Ecuador coach Sixto Vizuete said. Vizuete singled out newcomers like Jefferson Montero and Joao Rojas.
"The loss makes me a bit sad," said Rojas. "I wanted to go to my first World Cup. We did what we could. We left everything had on the field."
Christian Lara crossed dangerously for Ecuador in the 28th, but the Chilean defense managed to clear. Edison Mendez also saw his effort go wide just as the half ended.
Suazo gave Chile the lead shortly after halftime, meeting a cross from Arturo Vidal in the 53rd. The goal was Suazo's 10th in South American qualifying, making him the competition's top scorer.
Ecuador committed more players forward in an attempt to rescue the win needed to keep its World Cup hopes alive.
Ismael Fuentes was sent off for Chile in the 84th minute for a foul on Segundo Castillo, but Ecuador was unable to make the extra man count in the final minutes.