Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying for the Euro 2008 finals were dealt a massive blow with this defeat against Group F strugglers Latvia in Riga.
Maik Taylor is disconsolate after the 1-0 defeat in Latvia
The only goal of the game came on 55 minutes when Chris Baird turned a Maris Verpakouskis cross into his own net.
In the first half Keith Gillespie had a left-foot effort saved, David Healy shot straight at keeper Andris Vanins and then fired wide before the break.
Vanis saved a Jonny Evans header from Chris Brunt's cross a minute from time.
After a slow start, Michael Duff did well to divert a Juris Laizans cross with Girts Karlsons waiting to shoot.
Andrejs Rubins ran clear on goal soon after but was off target with a left-foot drive.
Warren Feeney was introduced as a second-half substitute but his right-wing cross was just too high for Healy.
With six minutes remaining, Gillespie lofted a left-foot half-volley over the bar and then Evans went close with his side's best chance of the game but the Latvian stopper was equal to the task, collecting at the second attempt.
It was a game of few chances and Nigel Worthington's side now travel to Iceland needing a win to keep their fading qualification hopes alive.
Latvia: Vanins, Zirnis, Gorkss, Klava, Ivanovs, Bleidelis, Laizans, Astafjevs, Rubins, Verpakovskis, Karlsons.
Subs: Romanovs, Blanks, Solonicins, Visnjakovs, Surnins, Rimkus, Kacanovs.
Northern Ireland: Taylor, Baird, Duff, Evans, McCartney, Gillespie, Clingan, Davis, Elliott, Healy, Lafferty.
Subs: Mannus, Sproule, McAuley, Feeney, Jones, Craigan, Brunt.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal)