Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill remained upbeat about his side's hopes of qualification for Euro 2016 despite a 2-0 defeat by Romania.
Two second-half goals from Paul Papp ended Northern Ireland's three-game winning streak and moved the Romanians one point clear in Group F.
"We were beaten by the better team on the night," admitted NI boss O'Neill.
"Nine points from four matches is still a great effort however and we must use the platform we have given ourselves."
He added: "I couldn't have asked any more from the players in terms of commitment and work-rate but we can play better - we just lacked that wee bit of quality.
"We could have been better in certain areas but Romania are the strongest team in the group and we came within 15 minutes of getting a result."
Northern Ireland had won their first three qualifiers against Hungary, Faroe Islands and Greece, but were without a number of influential players for the trip to Bucharest. Steven Davis, Jonny Evans, Shane Ferguson and Jamie Ward were among those absent.
"We missed some key players but it's testament to the effort put in by the players that we find ourselves in the position we are in," O'Neill added.
"The lads are disappointed because at 0-0 with 70 minutes gone you start to believe there's a point for you, maybe more if you can exploit your opportunities.
"But we have four home games to look forward to and our most difficult away games are behind us.
"Our focus now is to win the next two home games, against Finland and Romania, where we have an opportunity to cement our place in the top three."