Estonia came from behind to move into a play-off spot in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group C, and end their opponents' qualification hopes, thanks to a second-half double from substitute Konstantin Vassiljev.
Steven Davis put the hosts ahead midway through the first half but Vassiljev came off the bench to level the scores from the penalty spot, before sealing a vital win with six minutes remaining. Only a Serbia victory in Slovenia on Tuesday can prevent Estonia, who have completed their fixtures, from reaching the play-offs.
Both sides needed to win the stay in contention for a play-off berth and it was the home team who started the better with Grant McCann testing the reflexes of Sergei Pareiko on 15 minutes. Nigel Worthington's charges were then rewarded for their early dominance when Pareiko could only parry Kyle Lafferty's cross and Davis was on hand to tap in the rebound on his 50th international appearance.
Pat McCourt and Gareth McAuley threatened as Northern Ireland continued to press but they would be made to rue their missed chances after the break. Tarmo Kink's strike early in the second half showed Estonia's intent and when Sergei Zenjov spurned a one-on-one chance moments later, the warning signs were there.
Dmitri Kruglov then came close from a corner and Tarmo Rüütli's side got the equaliser that their play deserved on 77 minutes when Vassiljev was fouled by Craig Cathcart inside the area. The 27-year-old picked himself to score from the resulting penalty and the comeback was on. Vassiljev's subsequent strike from 35 metres gave Lee Camp in the Northern Ireland goal no chance and sealed a crucial win for Estonia.