Northern Ireland's slim hopes of a Euro 2012 play-off - and possibly Nigel Worthington's prospects of a new contract - were finally extinguished with a 2-1 at the hands of lowly Estonia.
Having slumped to a 4-1 loss in Tallinn last month, this match was as much about revenge as keeping alive their mathematical hopes of second place in Group C.
In the end under-pressure Worthington saw his side leave Windsor Park with nothing as Konstantin Vassiljev's double - a penalty and a controversial winner six minutes from time - cancelled out captain Steven Davis' first-half opener.
Tarmo Kink almost put the visitors ahead inside 10 minutes, firing left-footed and drawing a sprawling save from Lee Camp, who had a night to forget when the side's met in September.
Grant McCann returned fire when his 25-yard strike forced a corner in the 15th minute, while Davis was an increasingly lively presence in the centre, winning possession well and supporting Rangers team-mate Kyle Lafferty from midfield.
It was the Ibrox pair who combined to put the hosts ahead, Lafferty breaking down the right and drilling a low cross across the six-yard box. Goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko spilled it and Davis beat two defenders to the ball to bundle home.
Estonia started the second half much stronger but wasted two fine chances in the space of the three minutes after the break. First Kink hit a tame shot following from 10 yards after good work by Ragnar Klavan and then, in the 50th minute, Sergei Zenjov produced an even worse attempt to drag wide with only Camp to beat.
With 15 minutes remaining Craig Cathcart was penalised for impeding Vassiljev as he cut into the area. He took the penalty himself and drilled into the centre of goal for the equaliser.
Cathcart had the chance to atone with nine minutes left, Chris Brunt heading McCann's long free-kick to the Blackpool defender six yards out. He did well to get over the ball but there was no power in his shot and Pareiko saved easily.
Instead, it was Estonia who took the points. It was a glorious long-range strike from Vassiljev but left the Northern Ireland players furious after the linesman was seen to raise his flag in the build-up only to go unheeded. If there were genuine qualms over the legitimacy of the winner, there was no doubt that it had been coming.
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms