Young Jack McCourt was the hero for County Antrim as he hit the winning penalty that put them into their second Dale Farm Milk Cup final in a row after nervewracking penalty shoot-out victory over O’Higgins.
Stefan Seaton’s men drew 0-0 with the Chilean side at Scroggy Road in Limavady in normal time, but the County side progressed by winning a tense penalty shootout 8-7.
Antrim can now look forward to playing Brazilian giants Corinthians in Friday’s Junior Final at the Ballymena Showgrounds. The Sao Paulo side beat English outfit Plymouth Argyle 2-0 at Seahaven in Portstewart thanks to goals from Luquinha and Fabricio.
At Scroggy Road, the opening stages of the game were cagey, as both teams attempted to get to grips with the heavy downpour that threatened to spoil the game.
It took nearly half an hour for both teams to find their shooting boots. First Antrim’s Dylan Davidson broke well on the left before he fired a shot straight at Luis Medina in the O’Higgins goal.
O’Higgins then hit back with a chance of their own. Defender Sem Zambrano headed just over the bar from his side’s first corner.
After the half-time break, little seemed to have changed bar Antrim’s kit, as bizarrely they swapped from their saffron kit to their red change strip. Thankfully, minutes later the rain ceased and the game began to open up.
O’Higgins came close again as Bastamante and Valther Vilchez interchanged well before the latter sent a chipped effort just over the bar.
Antrim saw one of their best chances of the half go begging. Substitute Stephen Mallon dribbled past two players before he put a sumptuous cross into the box, but none of his team-mates could get on the end of it.
The penalty shootout forced 10 penalties, with Antrim’s Jack McCourt scoring the decisive penalty to give his side an 8-7 win.