Northern Ireland suffered yet another defeat in their World Cup qualifying group as they went down 2-0 to Israel at Windsor Park.
The hosts were unlucky to not be ahead in the first half after Steven Davis saw his shot blocked brilliantly by Dudu Aouate, and the Green and White Army enjoyed the better chances of a goalless opening period.
However, their good work was undone in the second half as goals from Lior Rafaelov and Eden Ben Basat secured a priceless victory for the visitors.
Michael O’Neill came into this game without a win as manager of Northern Ireland and made just one change, with the suspended Kyle Lafferty replaced by Martin Paterson up front.
Meanwhile, the Israelis also had a striker ruled out by a ban, with Tomer Hemed forced to sit out having scored seven goals in his previous seven internationals.
The game began in bitterly cold conditions at Windsor Park and it was the away side who settled quickest, with Itay Schechter hitting the post with an early header at the near post.
However, after that moment of magic the game stalled somewhat as both teams were guilty of giving the ball away too easily and were unable to forge any clear chances for themselves.
It took until the 19th minute for either side to create another opening, as Davis’ delightful pass nearly found Paterson in the box but for a timely intervention by Tal Ben Haim.
The home side were beginning to enjoy a good amount of possession as Israel tried to soak up their pressure, with Chris Brunt’s set pieces creating some problems for the visitors.
The hosts came close to opening the scoring in the 30th minute, as Paterson seized upon a defensive error to play a square ball to Davis but his shot was saved brilliantly by Aouate, with the follow-ups from Brunt and Aaron Hughes also blocked.
However, despite enjoying more of the ball, Northern Ireland could not make their advantage count and went into half-time with the scores goalless.
The visitors started the second half in a more attacking vein and forced Roy Carroll to make a reaction save in the 53rd minute from a fierce Maor Melikson shot.
Northern Ireland then had another superb chance just five minutes later as Davis received the ball from just outside the penalty area and cannoned a shot off the crossbar.
The hosts continued to have the majority of the possession but found themselves unable to create a clear chance as the Israeli defence held out well in the face of intense pressure.
However, somewhat against the run of play it was the away side who took the lead as a slick passing move caught Northern Ireland’s defence napping and Rafaelov was able to slot home.
The home side tried their best to find a late equaliser but conceded again after Ben Basat’s superb finish and slumped to yet another disappointing defeat in their World Cup qualifying group.
|Coach: M. O'Neill|
for S. Ferguson 73'
for S. Clingan 79'
for M. Paterson 83'
|Everton profited from ´harsh´ refereeing, claims Delaney|
|We will get much better, Guardiola warns rivals|
|Ibrahimovic turned down €100m China deal - Raiola|
|Everton 1 Crystal Palace 1: Benteke cancels out Lukaku opener|
|Rashford looking to emulate Ronaldo at Manchester United|
|Managers given bad name by Allardyce scandal - Moyes|
|Pagliara claims he lied to Telegraph over bungs|
|Dyche excited by Arsenal challenge|
|Mazzarri wary of unleashing Success until he is fully fit|
|Moyes stands by criticism of players|
|Guardiola marvels at amazing Ryder Cup experience|
|Mathieu and Deschamps ´exchange´ gives Mangala recall|
|Retirement threat just ´erratic´ Tevez being dramatic - Joorabchian|
|Dani Alves wants Champions League glory with Juventus|
|Guardiola: Football fans can enjoy Tottenham|
|Ranieri calls for consistency from Leicester|
|Low missing out on ´dream´ player in Castro - Tuchel|
|Mata: I never had problems with Mourinho|
|Conte wants failures to motivate Chelsea|
|Pochettino rules out ´impossible´ England switch|
|Emery pleased with Ben Arfa attitude|
|Gundogan returns for Germany after lengthy absence|
|Terry out again as Chelsea prepare for Hull|
|Hasselbaink refutes corruption allegations|
|Robben to start against Cologne, suggests Ancelotti|
|Prolific Callejon called into Spain squad|
|Hull City offer ´keeps changing´ - Phelan|
|Krueger: Black allegations do not directly affect Southampton|
|Wenger optimistic over Coquelin recovery|
|Hughes focused after Mourinho backing|
|Wenger open to England job|
|Klopp eyes retirement before 60|
|Wenger the pioneer battles on within his own legacy|
|Lukaku: I am not on Suarez´s level yet|
|Ibrahimovic is tremendous even if he does not score - Mourinho|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Olimpia, Honduras Progreso claim key wins|
|Astra expected hungover Roma - Spalletti|
|United fixture list a ´poisoned gift´ - Mourinho|
|Ronaldo back for ´stronger´ Portugal|
|Dembele can be next Drogba - Rodgers|
|Mourinho wanted Pogba at Chelsea, says Raiola|
|Puel pleased with ´good point´ in Israel|
|Mourinho not ´over the moon´ with United wins|
|Southampton investigating Eric Black allegations|
|Rodgers: Celtic would challenge at the top in England|
|Ibrahimovic expects more from United|
|Manchester United 1 Zorya 0: Ibrahimovic header earns Mourinho´s men narrow win|
|De Boer blasts Inter for lack of focus|
|Zarate reveals message to ill wife after goalscoring return|
|Raffael suffers fresh injury setback|
|Hapoel Be´er Sheva 0 Southampton 0: Saints´ winning run comes to an end|
|Sparta Prague 3 Inter 1: De Boer´s side humbled in Europa League again|
|Police to review corruption allegations after Telegraph sting|
|Brady hails Wenger as ´possibly the best ever´ Gunners boss|
|Yacob signs new West Brom deal|
|Guidolin prioritising Swansea improvement over his future|
|Sakho outburst has been dealt with – Klopp|
|Bilic sorry for Allardyce in ´very sad´ week for English football|
|Laporte saga nears conclusion as defender earns France call-up|
|Everton are exceeding expectations – Koeman|
|Wenger could be tempted by an international offer, says ex-assistant|
|No excuses for Liverpool this time, says Klopp|
|Rashford left out of England Under-21 squad|
|Boro must pick up where they left off - Karanka|
|Matuidi could still join Juventus, says Raiola|
|Pardew anticipates battle of the Belgians|
|Legia Warsaw to face Real Madrid behind closed doors|
|England job would be the pinnacle - Pardew|
|Wright sacked by Barnsley|
|Bilic defends West Ham team night out|
|Ramsey withdrawal was Arsenal´s call - Coleman|
|LMA demand ´immediate full disclosure´ of corruption evidence|
|´My answer would be a big fat no´ - Coleman rules out taking England job|
|Leeds dismiss Cellino sting as ´non-story´|
|Gabigol, Rashford and Sanches among Golden Boy nominees|
|Keane slams Arsenal: Half their players will have gloves on soon|
|´Special´ Man City draw a career highlight, says Gordon|
|Southgate admits England situation is ´not ideal´|
|England should have gone for O´Neill, says Shilton|
|PSG´s powers of recovery impress Cavani|
|Howe ´absolutely committed´ to Bournemouth amid England links|
|Man City proved character against Celtic, says Zabaleta|
|Walcott: Sanchez partnership bodes well for Arsenal´s season|
|MLS Review: DC, Impact on track for play-offs|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Tigres, Dallas left waiting|
|Central Sanchez pleases Wenger|
|Barca felt Messi absence - Busquets|
|Martino knew Messi would come out of retirement|
|Shilton never convinced by Allardyce|
|Degenek replaced by Giannou for Socceroos|
|Griezmann will still take penalties - Simeone|
|Simeone proud of ´one of the best´ wins|
|Godin suffers sprained ankle ligament|
|West Ham receive positive news over injured duo|
|Robson: Four wins for Southgate and he´s an England contender|
|Gunes rues Besiktas´ inability to see off Dynamo|
|Sarri: Late goals leave bitter taste|
|Borussia Monchengladbach were exceptional against Barcelona, feels Schubert|
|PSG must be patient, says Emery|
|Celtic are lucky to have Dembele - Rodgers|
|I´m completely focused on Arsenal, insists Wenger amid England talk|