They were punished for this miss just a minute later as Rauf Aliyev let fly with a strike from range that found the bottom corner to give Azerbaijan the lead.
Lafferty missed another glorious chance to open the scoring for his side just before the half-hour mark having been found by Steven Davis, but his effort was straight at the keeper.
Craig Cathcart squandered two chances for the equaliser in quick succession towards the end of the half as he headed wide both times.
The hosts continued to push for an equaliser, but once again missed a great chance to find it on the stroke of half-time. This time Daniel Lafferty was the guilty party, heading over from close range.