JOHANNESBURG - Uruguay are enjoying their best World Cup in 40 years and the way they overcame a spirited South Korea with a Luis Suarez double suggested their ambitions can stretch at least as far as the semi-finals.
All five of the South American sides made it into the knockout phase and Saturday's victory only strengthened the feeling that it will take a team with a perfectly executed game plan to prevent one of them winning it.
South Korea, for all their bustling energy going forward, did not have the required nerve in front of goal or discipline at the back to deal with Uruguay, as Suarez secured a 2-1 win for the twice world champions in pouring rain at Port Elizabeth.
Mistakes at crucial times simply made life too easy for the Uruguayans.
An excruciating error from goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong handed Suarez his first goal and made it tough for South Korea almost from the start.
A headed Lee Chung-Yong equaliser was reward for their commitment but, while more pragmatic sides would have counted their luck, shut up shop for the last 22 minutes and looked for extra-time and penalties, South Korea continued to attack.
South American teams have been ruthless in picking off sides showing too much ambition and it was no surprise to see Uruguay re-establish their lead, though it took an outstanding finish from Suarez to do it.
South Korea created clear chances either side of that second Uruguay goal but Lee Chung-Yong and substitute Lee Dong-Gook could not come up with the cool response required when they found themselves perfectly placed in front of goal.
The Koreans bow out having achieved their best performance at a World Cup on foreign soil but there will be a nagging feeling among their fans that more was possible from a technically gifted squad perhaps too fond of intricate build-up.
For Uruguay, who won the last of their two World Cups in 1950, the path suddenly looks clear to the last four with either the United States or Ghana to come in their first quarter-final appearance since 1970.
Coach Oscar Tabarez has two talented, in-form forwards in Suarez and Diego Forlan, who set up the first goal and produced another tireless, threatening display, and a defence that has conceded just one goal all tournament.
A third World Cup triumph still looks overly optimistic but if future opponents continue to make such naive mistakes expect a team with surging confidence to keep taking full advantage.