NORTHERN Ireland were humbled by lowly Luxembourg as Mathias Janisch grabbed a late but deserved winner.
Scorers: Luxembourg - Joachim 45, Bensi 78, Janisch 87; Northern Ireland - Paterson 14, McAuley 82
Referee: R Malek (Pol)
Luxembourg had won just three World Cup qualifiers in their history before this match, the last of them at home in 1972, but were full value for three points.
Martin Paterson had put his side ahead against the run of play and Gareth McAuley looked to have snatched a draw in the 82nd minute after goals by Aurelien Joachim and Stefano Bensi.
For Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill it will surely feel like much of the good work achieved in beating Russia last month and running Portugal close last week has now evaporated.
His side had opened the scoring against the run of play when Huddersfield striker Paterson finished emphatically with his left boot. But, with the referee seconds away from blowing for half-time, Luxembourg netted through Joachim on the counter-attack.
They then took the lead when Bensi beat Roy Carroll with a superb drive. The equaliser came from McAuley’s downward header at the far post but the winner arrived in the 87th minute when Janisch stabbed home from close range after some poor defending.