Neymar starred again and Brazil turned on the style against Bolivia, with Chile's struggles in the FIFA World Cup South American qualifiers continuing as Ecuador returned to form. Uruguay, though, remain top of the South American standings, thanks to their own comfortable win on Thursday, while Argentina could not keep pace with the leaders, as the team, without Lionel Messi in the lineup, were held to a 2-2 draw by Peru.
Brazil have looked good under new manager Tite and that strong form continued in Natal, with Neymar opening the scoring against Bolivia in just the 10th minute of the game. The Barcelona forward played a one-two with Gabriel Jesus before easing the ball into the net.
Philippe Coutinho's great start to the season showed no signs of abating as the Liverpool man made it 2-0 on 25 minutes, with fullback Filipe Luis and Gabriel Jesus striking in the space of five minutes to give Brazil a 4-0 lead at halftime.
Roberto Firmino would add the icing on the cake in the 74th minute, with Brazil firming their grip in the standings, courtesy the emphatic victory.
Uruguay, though, are the team at the top, with 19 points from nine matches, one more than Neymar's side, with Edinson Cavani playing the lead act in the 3-0 win over Venezuela. After Nicolas Lodeiro opened the scoring in the 29th minute, Cavani finished with a brace, thanks to goals in the 46th and 79th minutes.
Playing in the late game, Argentina had the advantage of knowing what was needed to go back to the top three of the points table, but despite taking the lead on two occasions, they were pegged back by a determined Peru side in Lima.
Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori opened the scoring for Argentina in the 15th minute, with Paolo Guerrero equalising just before the hour. Argentina seemed to have the match in the bag when Gonzalo Higuain made it 2-1 in the 77th minute, only for Christian Cueva to pull the game to 2-2 from the penalty spot six minutes from time. The result leaves Argentina on 16 points, equal with Ecuador and Colombia, but in fifth place.
Chile, the defending Copa America champions, are in serious danger of missing out on the 2018 Russia World Cup, after they suffered their fourth defeat in nine qualifying matches.
Ecuador, coming into this match after four winless games, were too strong and too fast for Chile, with Antonio Valencia, Cristiano Ramirez and Felipe Caicedo all scoring in a deserved win. The three points took Ecuador to third in the table, while Chile are down in seventh, five points adrift of fourth-placed Colombia, who beat Paraguay 1-0, thanks to a 90th minute goal from Edwin Cardona.
The top four gain automatic qualification, while the side that finishes fifth will need to earn their right to play in the World Cup by winning a playoff.
Results: Ecuador 3-0 Chile; Uruguay 3-0 Venezuela; Paraguay 0-1 Colombia; Brazil 5-0 Bolivia; Peru 2-2 Argentina.