(CNN) -- Table topping Argentina were held goalless by Colombia in a fiery South American World Cup qualifier which saw both sides end the match with 10 men.
The first flashpoint came midway through the first half as Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain clashed with Cristian Zapata and both were dismissed.
Referee Marlon Escalante of Venezuela brandished his red cards after Zapata retaliated for an earlier Higuain foul.
But the official was also involved in a controversial decision after the break as he ruled out a Sergio Aguero effort for offside to the fury of the home side's coaching staff.
An earlier Aguero 'goal' was also chalked off for offside, while the second half introduction of Barcelona ace Lionel Messi, who is still nursing a hamstring injury, could not produce a breakthrough for Argentina.
Argentina started the match in the Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires in frantic style and David Ospina in the visiting goal made a series of stunning saves.
"Ospina was in excellent form for us," Colombia coach Jose Pekerman told the official FIFA website.
But Colombia also had their moments and Monaco bound striker Radamel Falcao wasted a great chance to put them ahead.
As well as the red cards, Escalante also gave out eight yellows, but with the draw Argentina still stay five points clear of Colombia, who move into second after Ecuador's 1-0 defeat to Peru.
Veteran Claudio Pizarro scored the only goal to keep his side's hopes of qualification alive.
Chile won 2-1 in Paraguay, ending the home side's chances of making the World Cup finals in Brazil next year while occupying the fourth and final automatic qualifying spot in the group.
The fifth placed side enter a playoff against their Asian counterpart.
In the CONCACAF qualifying group, Juergen Klinsmann's United States team scored a vital 2-1 win in Jamaica.
A Brad Evans goal settled the match in Kingston after Jermaine Beckford had canceled out Jozy Altidore's opener of the U.S.
They are tied on seven points with Costa Rica and Mexico.
In a tight group, Panama, who held Mexico to a draw in their latest match, are just a point behind. Costa Rica edged out neighbors Honduras 1-0 to maintain their strong challenge.