Injury-hit Northern Ireland's Euro 2024 qualifier misery continued as a 1-0 defeat away to Kazakhstan stretched their losing streak to five matches.
A superb first-half goal by Maxim Samorodov was the difference in a drab, tight encounter in Astana.
Conor McMenamin missed an excellent chance to equalise for the visitors before the break and Conor Washington had a second-half shot saved.
Northern Ireland have just three points from their opening six Group H matches.
They went into this week's double-header with very little prospect of qualifying for the finals in Germany next summer and now sit nine points behind the group leaders with four matches to play.
With manager Michael O'Neill having returned for a second spell in charge ahead of what many felt was a favourable Euro qualifying group, a chronic injury list has robbed him of key players and been a major factor in them having lost every match since beating minnows San Marino in their opener.
O'Neill was without 12 players for Sunday's match because of injury and has had up 17 players missing at various stages of the qualifying campaign.
Having produced an attacking, if at times chaotic, display in Thursday night's 4-2 defeat in Slovenia, when defensive errors cost them dearly, Northern Ireland had a much more disciplined and compact approach against Kazakhstan and looked comfortable for most of a game of few chances.
Indeed, Samorodov's goal in the 27th minute, a real display of quality technique and finishing, was the only shot on target in the first half.
The number 10 received a pass inside on the half-turn, 25 yards out, and a fine first touch allowed him to beat Daniel Ballard before shifting the ball and firing an arrowed, low drive that flashed across Bailey Peacock-Farrell and nestled in the bottom corner.
McMenamin miss proves costly for NI
McMenamin's big chance for Northern Ireland came a few minutes before half time when Washington made a good break down the left and played a nice pass inside to Matty Kennedy, who in turn flicked the ball across the face of goal.
Former Glentoran winger McMenamin looked poised to fire it home from close range but, as he slid in to finish, goalscorer Samorodov had tracked back and slid in to make an outstanding clearance.
With Paul Smyth introduced as a half-time substitute and injecting life into Northern Ireland's attack, as he did when he came off the bench against Slovenia, the visitors started the second half strongly and Washington came close to equalising in the 49th minute.
Teenager Shea Charles, who once again furthered his growing reputation with a mature performance in centre midfield, tried a long-range shot that bounced into the path of Washington, with the striker catching a half volley on the turn well but it was thwarted by a fine reflex save by home goalkeeper Igor Shatskiy.
Charles had another long-range effort saved before closing down well to release Washington down the left, but he opted to shoot when Ali McCann was free inside and Shatskiy again had a comfortable save.
There were few chances in the closing stages as Kazakhstan held on for their fourth win in six group matches, taking them level on 12 points with leaders Finland, who play Denmark later on Sunday evening.