Uruguay became the 32nd and final team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup on Wednesday after grinding out a 0-0 draw in a gritty battle with Jordan.
After thrashing the Jordanians 5-0 in the first leg in Amman last week, a capacity crowd at Montevideo’s famous Centenario Stadium had looked forward to seeing a full-strength Celeste side produce a high-scoring send-off.
However, a fiercely committed Jordan frustrated the South Americans at every turn, defending in numbers and ruffling Oscar Tabarez’s men with a physical approach.
It did not stop the Uruguayan players and their fans erupting in wild celebrations at the final whistle, as fireworks exploded above the stadium.
Earlier, three Jordanian players picked up bookings during a game that restored some pride for coach Hossam Hassan after his team were embarrassed on home soil last week.
Uruguay, the fifth-ranked side in South America’s qualifying campaign, had been struggling to qualify only a few months ago, scraping into fifth place after mounting a late rally to win four out of their five final qualifiers.
The tone for Wednesday’s match was set early on with Mohammed Aldmeiri and Adnan Hasan both booked by referee Jonas Eriksson in the first half for some wild lunges.
Uruguay struggled to penetrate a resolute Jordanian defence, restricted to only a handful of unsuccessful attacks on goal.
Defender Diego Godin had the best chance for Uruguay, hitting the bar with an instinctive close-range header on the stroke of halftime.
In the second half, captain Diego Lugano went closest on 60 minutes, rising unmarked to meet a corner but steering a downward header just wide.
Ultimately, the Jordanians held on for a famous draw.
Uruguay finished fourth at the 2010 World Cup, the best finish of any South American team. They have also won the tournament twice.
It is the fourth consecutive time Uruguay have gone into an intercontinental playoff to reach the World Cup. They defeated Costa Rica in 2010, but lost to Australia in 2005 after defeating the Socceroos in 2001.
Uruguay, with a population of only 3.3 million, will be one of eight seeded teams in the December 6 World Cup draw. The seedings are based on FIFA’s rankings. The other seven are Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium and Switzerland.
Statistically, the 816th and final match since qualifying for Brazil began on June 15, 2011 narrowed 203 nations down to 31 to join Brazil, who qualify automatically as host nation.
Dutchman Robin van Persie, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and Deon McCaulay of Belize topped the overall goal scoring with 11 each.