Jim Magilton’s side took the lead shortly after half time through a stunning Seamus McCarten strike but two goals from Viktor Kovalenko gave the visitors the three points.
Northern Ireland started on the backfoot as Ukraine’s captain Vladen Yurchenko had his first chance of the half stinging the palms of Conor Brennan. The resulting corner ended in a goalmouth scramble but Brennan kept it out.
The Ukrainian captain would again chance his luck from distance and this time beat Brennan but it flew wide to stay 0-0.
Northern Ireland would end the half well as firstly Robbie Mcdaid ran through on goal under pressure but could only shoot wide.
Then Seamus McCarten headed a cross wide before setting up Michael Duffy who could only hit over the bar.
But the best chance of the half fell to the dangerman Yurchenko just before half time as he pulled a great save out of Brennan to keep it 0-0 at half time.
Northern Ireland came out the brighter of the two sides as Robbie Mcdaid took advantage of a defensive mistake but the Ukrainian defence were able to clear.
That wouldn’t matter as Northern Ireland took the lead just a minute later. McCarten cut in from the right onto his left foot and hit a beautiful curling effort past Bogdan Sarnavskyi who could only watch it fly into the net.
The lead lasted 10 minutes as Ukraine hit back with an equalizer after 64 minutes. A great through ball found an unmarked Viktor Kovalenko in the area and he had time to hit across Brennan.
Gavin Whyte would continue to trouble the Ukraine defence as his run forced a corner. The cross found the head of Mcdaid but he saw his header cleared off the line.
That clearance would prove massive as Ukraine took the lead two minutes later. A cross from the right found Kovalenko again who had time to hit a volley on the run into the bottom corner.
Northern Ireland would push for an equalizer as Cameron Dummigan struck a curling effort from 25 yards but his efforts were matched by Sarnavskyi.
It finished 2-1 and Northern Ireland’s next game sees them travel to Scotland on the 29th of March.
Northern Ireland: Conor Brennan, Cameron Dummigan, Luke Conlan, Josh Doherty, Luke Mccullough ©, Darren McKnight, Lewis Maloney, Seamus McCarten, Michael Duffy (78), Gavin Whyte (78), Robbie Mcdaid (83).
Subs: Conor Mitchell, Reece Glendinning, Eoghan Mccawl, Joel Cooper (78), Rhys Sharpe, Jordan Stewart (78), Jamie-Dean Mcdonagh (83).
Ukraine: Bogdan Sarnavskyi, Oleksandr Svatok, Ihor Duts, Dmytro Myshnov, Oleg Danchenko, Vladlen Yurchenko, Viktor Kovalenko (90+2), Eduard Sobol, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Dmytro Khlobas (45), Valerii Luchkevych (60).
Subs: Heorhii Bushchan, Yevhen Chumak, Mykyta Burda, Denys Bezborodko (45), Denys Miroshnichenko (60), Artem Filimonov (90+2), Taras Kacharaba