Northern Ireland had to accept a demoralising 1-1 draw against Luxembourg after a match they dominated ended with the visitors scoring a heavily deflected equaliser in the 86th minute.
Things had started so promisingly for Michael O'Neill's side, with Dean Shiels claiming his first international goal with a deft finish in the 14th minute.
The hosts had nearly all of the meaningful chances, with three efforts disallowed by the officials and Chris Brunt hitting the post before Daniel Da Mota's shot squirmed home via Ryan McGivern's shoulder.
The home side took the lead through Shiels. Somewhat surprisingly Jonny Evans played the role of creator, surging upfield and exchanging neat passes with the Rangers man. Evans' second pass cut open the defence and Shiels lifted his shot deftly over the oncoming Jonathan Joubert.
After 21 minutes Evans thought he had made it 2-0 himself from a neat corner routine but the goal was ruled out due to a push.
There was disappointing news in the 29th minute when Gareth McAuley received his second booking in as many matches to rule him out of next month's trip to Portugal.
The hosts had a second effort disallowed soon after, Kyle Lafferty stroking a fine effort into the top corner after good work from Chris Baird, only to be pulled up for offside.
Unbelievably, the home side had a third effort struck off by the officials on the hour, Lafferty in an offside position when he sidefooted Shane Ferguson's cross home.
Steven Davis gave Brunt the chance to ease the pressure with seven minutes left but, after meeting the carefully-measured pass, he rolled his shot against the base of the post.
Then, just moments later, the sucker punch arrived. With too many green shirts committed forward, Luxembourg surged up the pitch and a shot opened up for Da Mota. His effort appeared to be heading wide until it took a huge deflection off McGivern's shoulder to leave Roy Carroll stranded.