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 second defeat 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, turned the game around after captain Steven Davis’ first-half opener.
It was a glorious long-range strike from Vassiljev but left the home 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.
A chorus of boos rang around the ground at the final whistle, with ‘Worthington out’ chants mixed with some choice words for the referee.
Worthington must now raise his team for a trip to group winners Italy, where he has one final chance to stake a claim for a new deal.