Neil Lennon slammed Northern Ireland in a fiery on-air television rant last night as his country slumped to defeat over Bulgaria.

A Todor Nedelev double gave the hosts the victory with Conor Washington grabbing a goal for Ian Baraclough's team.

After Saturday’s controversial 2-0 loss to Switzerland left hopes of going to Qatar hanging by a thread, but a second-half collapse in Sofia cut them off decisively.

Reacting to the result on Sky Sports, Lennon said: "My emotions are ones of anger... that was abysmal in that second half, absolutely abysmal.

"First half, Bulgaria looked like the worst team in the group by far. Northern Ireland had three great chances, and then they scored.

"They could have been two or three up at half-time, they came out for the second half, no urgency, and were totally passive. They sat off Bulgaria and invited them onto us, our game management in the second half was pathetic.

"With 15 minutes to go, we were 2-1 down and had not really been in their half. We got a corner, we take a short one and lose it, the ball is 50 yards back up the pitch to kill any momentum.

"It seems to me they lost their way completely, no leadership, the gaps between the back three, the midfield and front two was all over the place in the second half. We deserved to lose."