Northern Ireland are on the brink of relegation in the Nations League after Edin Dzeko's double earned Bosnia-Herzegovina a 2-0 win in Sarajevo.
Having taken full advantage of Jamal Lewis' calamitous error midway through the first half, Dzeko – who also had a seemingly legitimate goal disallowed – wrapped up the points 17 minutes from time.
The Roma striker's clinical finishing came in stark contrast to Northern Ireland's profligacy, with substitute Gavin Whyte passing up the best of some golden opportunities when he struck the woodwork from point-blank range.
Michael O'Neill's side will drop down to the third tier if Austria secure one point from their two remaining games, which includes a trip to Windsor Park, while Bosnia-Herzegovina just need a draw to clinch promotion to League A.
George Saville should have done better from Steven Davis' pinpoint cross after quarter of an hour and the midfielder went closer five minutes later when his half-volley rattled the right-hand upright.
Northern Ireland's bad luck continued in the 27th minute, Edin Visca pouncing on Lewis' slip to tee up Dzeko, who made no mistake with a tidy first-time finish.
Lewis could have been at fault for a second Bosnia-Herzegovina goal when he appeared to play Dzeko onside from Miralem Pjanic's set-piece, but the assistant referee's flag spared his blushes after a blistering volley from the striker.
Whyte looked set to haul Northern Ireland level in the 66th minute, only for the 22-year-old to somehow hit the post from six yards out with the goal gaping.
The visitors were made to pay when Dzeko beat the offside trap and curled Pjanic's pass beyond Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
The woodwork again denied Whyte in stoppage time as Northern Ireland failed to stop Bosnia-Herzegovina extending their 100 per cent Nations League record to three matches.
What it means: Profligacy proves costly
Northern Ireland have had no trouble creating opportunities in their Nations League campaign, but their failure to convert those chances into goals has piled too much pressure on their defence. The positive signs are there, but unless O'Neill's side begin to hit the target, it does not bode well heading into Euro 2020 qualification.
Dzeko had hardly touched the ball before slotting in the opener and he showed wonderful skill for the goal that was disallowed before finally getting his second late on. With his quality up top, Bosnia-Herzegovina will be confident of securing promotion to League A when they face Austria next time out.
Lewis at fault again
It has been a difficult start to life on the international stage for Norwich City youngster Lewis, who had now made errors leading to goals in all three of Northern Ireland's Nations League fixtures. It was only Lewis' fifth cap, but he will need to learn quickly if he is to cement a place in O'Neill's side.
Key Opta facts:
- Bosnia-Herzegovina are unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions, winning five and drawing three.
- Northern Ireland are winless in their last six away matches in all competitions, failing to score a single goal in that run (D2 L4).
- Two of Northern Ireland's three shots on target in this match came in the final five minutes.
- Dzeko has been directly involved in seven goals in his last six competitive appearances for Bosnia-Herzegovina (five goals, two assists).
Northern Ireland face neighbours the Republic of Ireland in their next outing, before finalising their Nations League group campaign with a fixture against Austria, which will be a dead rubber if Franco Foda's side avoid defeat against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
|How Serena gave up 5-1 lead – the key moments of loss to Pliskova|
|Pliskova enjoys ´best comeback´ after stunning Serena|
|Serena not blaming ankle injury for Australian Open loss|
|Mavericks capitalise on Clippers´ turnovers, pick up win in Smith´s return|
|Pliskova saves four match points to stun Serena with comeback win|
|Anthony ´can only make´ a team better, says Iverson|
|Henry more worried about Monaco´s future than his own|
|Osaka powers past Svitolina in Melbourne|
|Harden on Anthony trade: It kind of sucks that it didn´t work out|
|Redskins remain ´optimistic´ QB Alex Smith will play again|
|Patriots coach Belichick says Rams´ Donald is ´pretty much unblockable´|
|PSG fined €100,000 by LFP over player-recruitment practices|
|I´m not his father - Guardiola demands Mendy matures|
|Sykes record in vain as Banvit claim victory|
|Usain Bolt calls time on football career|
|Otamendi not happy at Man City, says Guardiola|
|Workaholic Woods learning to rest as he prepares for 2019 debut|
|Henry´s Monaco dumped out of Coupe de France|
|Qatar can win Asian Cup, says Sanchez|
|Tim Howard to retire following 2019 MLS season|
|Koscielny backs Bellerin to return from injury ´stronger than before´|
|Chiefs fire DC Bob Sutton after AFC Championship loss to Patriots|
|Reyes returns to Spain with second-tier strugglers Extremadura|
|Emiliano Sala: Profile of Cardiff City striker missing after joining from Nantes|
|Messi rested for Sevilla trip, Boateng set for debut|
|Nuno fined over pitch celebration in Leicester win|
|Nadal unfazed by another Next Gen opponent in Tsitsipas|
|Ulster hand lifetime ban to spectator after Zebo abuse|
|Phehlukwayo´s career-best day inspires Proteas against Pakistan|
|Bournemouth pounce for Brentford´s Mepham|
|You say all signings are controversial – Valverde defends Boateng arrival|
|Search for missing Sala plane suspended|
|Kohli and Williamson display mutual respect as India and Black Caps prepare for battle|
|Qatar 1 Iraq 0: Al Rawi free-kick books quarter-final spot|
|Ba joins Adebayor and Robinho at Istanbul Basaksehir|
|BREAKING NEWS: Tottenham´s Alli out until March with hamstring injury|
|Fit-again Joseph added to England squad|
|It is very, very serious for us - Tuchel wants midfielder in January window|
|Lakers expect Rajon Rondo back Thursday as LeBron James continues rehab|
|Atletico Madrid boosted as Koke thigh injury revealed to be minor|
|South Korea 2 Bahrain 1 (after extra time): Kim Jin-su seals quarter-final spot|
|AC Milan confirm Zapata thigh injury|
|I miss him a lot - Guardiola confirms ´clever´ Mendy back in Man City squad|
|Tiafoe wants LeBron meeting after run to Australian Open quarters|
|Cardiff continue to ´pray´ for Sala|
|West Ham fined over Burnley clash chaos|
|Knicks star Enes Kanter frustrated by reduced role|
|Kvitova getting back to her best, says Barty|
|Kvitova revels in first semi of ´second career´|
|Messi´s the best player in every world – Boateng dismisses past Real Madrid comments|
|Thunder frustrations continue against Renegades|
|Alonso vows to clear name in tax fraud case|
|Classy Nadal downs Tiafoe to set up Tsitsipas semi|
|Hoedt leaves Southampton for Celta Vigo on loan|
|Melbourne City 4 Western Sydney Wanderers 3: Hosts edge thriller with two goals in last six minutes|
|Wilder won´t even pick up the phone - Hearn not hopeful of AJ bout|
|Sala was on board missing plane, say French authorities|
|Arsenal´s Bellerin out for season with ACL rupture|
|Gatland waiting on ´concrete´ offers|
|Ronaldo accepts prison sentence and €18.8m fine for tax fraud|
|Tsitsipas: It was vital to back up Federer win|
|Awesome Kvitova ends Barty´s home run in Melbourne|
|CA rejects Thunder appeal for full points in abandoned Heat clash|
|Emiliano Sala: Concerns grow for Cardiff striker after plane goes missing|
|Harden unimpressed with refs in Rockets´ 76ers disappointment|
|Ronaldo arrives for sentencing in tax fraud case|
|Record-breaking evening ´one of those nights´ for Warriors star Thompson|
|Hazard still interested in Real Madrid but won´t rule out Chelsea stay|
|Collins moves past Pavlyuchenkova, into Australian Open semis|
|Kohli makes history with ICC awards sweep|