Two first-half goals in Riga may have resurrected Poland's hopes of qualifying for Portugal.
Miroslaw Szymkowiak and Tomasz Klos struck a goal apiece in the space of three minutes to blunt Latvia's edge at the Skonto stadium, and Pawel Janas's side are now in with a chance of securing top spot in Group 4.
Off the post
A thrilling opening period saw both sides go close, with Imants Bleidelis rattling Jerzy Dudek's left-hand post with a long-range drive after six minutes as Latvia aimed to seize second place in the group.
Relief for Latvia
However, just a minute later Jacek Krzynówek gave Aleksandrs Kolinko a fright in the Latvian goal as his low free-kick from 25 metres beat the goalkeeper only to strike the foot of his left-hand post.
Dudek kept Poland on level terms after 17 minutes as he palmed a magnificent drive from Valentins Lobanovs to safety, and as Andrejs Prohorenkovs squandered a great chance to beat the Polish goalkeeper after 27 minutes, the home side's luck seemed to be against them.
However, there was nothing lucky about Poland's opening goal on 36 minutes. Szymkowiak lined up a free-kick 25 metres from goal, and dipped an excellent drive over the Latvian defensive wall and past Kolinko to the delight of the Polish travelling support.
Delight turned to rapture for the visitors three minutes later as Szymkowiak turned provider. He darted a free-kick in from the left-hand touchline which defender Klos forcefully headed into the Latvian goal from six metres.
The second half was something of an anti-climax after that exciting opening period as Poland opted to play it safe. They easily contained Latvia, but as tempers flared, their task was made much easier.
With half an hour remaining, Jurijs Laizans seemed to lunge at Mariusz Lewandowski off the ball, and after consulting his assistant, referee Kyros Vassaras showed the Latvian the red card.
A flurry of substitutions could not rescue Latvia and Poland nearly added insult to injury as Jacek Krzynówek tested Kolinko with a shot in the third minute of added time.
The result leaves Poland and Latvia level on ten points. Poland play host to group leaders Sweden on Wednesday while Latvia take on second-placed Hungary. Both sides remain in contention for top-two finishes in the group if they win those games.