RIO DE JANEIRO, April 6 (Reuters) - Caracas FC beat former Libertadores Cup champions River Plate 3-1 to dump the Argentines out of the competition despite having had four players suspended on the eve of the match.
The Venezuelans, forced to play away from their own stadium under a controversial ruling, qualified from Group Six at River's expense after beating them for the second time in Thursday's late game in the Colombian border town of Cucuta.
Caracas's 1-0 win at River Plate last month was the first by a Venezuelan side in Argentina in the competition's 47-year history.
River's elimination is almost certain to lead to speculation about the future of coach Daniel Passarella, who captained Argentina's World Cup-winning team in 1978 and was their coach in France 20 years later.
Chilean champions Colo Colo, who also qualified thanks to Thursday's result, and Caracas have nine points from five games while River have five, alongside Ecuador's LDU.
Defender Jose Manuel Rey put Caracas FC ahead in the 16th minute when he snapped up a rebound after the River defence failed to clear a corner
Forward Ernesto Farias equalised in the 28th minute but Habinson Escobar scored twice in four minutes before halftime to put Caracas in control. Franklin Lucena of Caracas and River's Victor Zapata were sent off for fighting in the 42nd minute.
Caracas had four players suspended on the eve of the game for their part in the protests which followed a 2-1 defeat at Colo Colo last week, although the Venezuelans maintained their players had been manhandled by Chilean police.
The South American Football Confederation ruled that their Brigido Iriarte stadium was too small for the competition but made the decision only after Caracas had already played one game at the arena.
Uruguay's Defensor Sporting, needing only one point to qualify from Group Eight alongside Santos, instead lost 2-0 at home to the Brazilian team, who won their fifth straight game.
Second-half goals from Marcos Aurelio and Rodrigo Tabata at Montevideo's Centenario stadium left Vanderlei Luxemburgo's side top with 15 points.
Defensor remained on nine points, three ahead of Argentina's Gimnasia-La Plata who took full advantage of their rivals' slip-up by winning 2-0 away to Colombia's Deportivo Pasto.
Rene Rosero scored an own goal in the 15th minute and Uruguayan Sergio Leal wrapped up the game, heading in from a free kick in the 75th minute of the match played in front of a sparse crowd.
Pasto, who remain pointless, completed an unhappy evening when Jamell Ramos came on as a substitute in the 58th minute and was sent off one minute later for a bad tackle.