The impossible shock didn't happen in the end as Argentina won 1-0 in Montevideo to bag the last South American place in South Africa and send Uruguay into a two-legged play-off with Costa Rica.
Chile's 1-0 win over Ecuador meant neither of tonight's teams in the Centenario would go home empty-handed. A nervous tussle went star-studded Argentina's way seven minutes from time when Uruguay's Martin Caceres was sent off and Argentine substitute Mario Bolatti side-footed home from the resulting free-kick's melee for the game's only goal.
Diego Maradona, predictably ecstatic at the end as a tearful Carlos Bilardo hugged him, lives to fight another day. Had Argentina gone out tonight, would that have been the last the soccer world had seen of its arguably greatest player?
Argentina join Brazil, Chile and Paraguay as the CONMEBOL automatic qualifiers for 2010.
Argentina's win was also belated revenge for the first World Cup final played between the two nations at that stadium in 1930: