Uruguay's Sebastian Abreu celebrates after scoring against Costa Rica during a World Cup qualifying soccer match in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Wednesday. ((Eduardo Di Baia/Associated Press))

Uruguay claimed the final spot in next year's 32-team World Cup in South Africa by drawing with Costa Rica 1-1 to take the two-leg soccer playoff 2-1 on aggregate Wednesday.

Substitute Sebastian Abreu gave Uruguay a 1-0 lead on a header in the 70th minute, and Walter Centeno levelled in the 74th on a 16-metre strike. Uruguay won the first match 1-0 on Saturday in Costa Rica.

"It was a tough game," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. "Our opponents really made us work.

"Right now I want to see these guys celebrate. Really, the achievement is theirs. At one moment we were almost out of the qualifying and now we can enjoy making it."

Uruguay won the 1930 and 1950 World Cups. It beat Australia in a playoff to reach the 2002 World Cup, and lost a playoff to Australia to miss out in 2006. Costa Rica was trying to reach its third straight finals.

Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Argentina had already advanced from South America. The United States, Mexico and Honduras are the qualifiers from the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Uruguay had most of the early chances including dangerous strikes from Diego Forlan and Nicolas Lodeiro, which forced key saves from Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Victor Nunez had Costa Rica's first threatening shot after about 25 minutes. Costa Rica's best chance until its late goal was a shot by Cristian Bolanos from long range that was turned away by Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera.

Uruguay seemed to have the World Cup berth wrapped up after Abreu's goal, but Centeno's quick strike gave Costa Rica hope and opened up the match.