Goals from Elderson, Ideye Brown, Ahmed Musa, and Emmanuel Emenike secure progression for Nigeria as Mali comes to the end of the road .
A day of destiny gently turned into a day of providence for the Super Eagles as they utterly outclassed Mali in the African Cup of Nation’s first semifinal.
Victor Moses was in stunning form, and it was his invention and natural ability that broke the deadlock. Bursting down the right flank, he sold the Malian left back with a Cruyff turn before sending a delicious curling cross into the six-yard box. Elderson was on hand to finish things off, stooping low to head the ball home.
The dominance continued as Mali’s back line was again cut to shreds and once more, Moses was the architect. His cross field run created indecision among the defense, before his delightful pass set Emmanuel Emenike free – the striker opted to play in his partner Ideye Brown, who made no mistake from close range.
Before halftime, Nigeria all but ended the match as a genuine contest. The Super Eagles were awarded a free kick for a tenuous Momo Sissoko tackle on Moses, and Emenike, one of the heroes against Cote d’Ivoire, stepped up with glory in his eyes.
He did not disappoint, although even he would not have expected the goal to come in such bizarre circumstances: the wall separating, and his fierce shot finally dribbling into the net, past the stranded Samassa, with Mali looking on aghast.
In the second half, it became apparent early on that Mali had realized the game was up, with the pace descending to a canter, all of the Super Eagles were keen to involve themselves in the action. Ahmed Musa, on for Moses, was the brightest. His goal on 60 minutes was the icing on the cake, and finally broke Malian resistance once and for all.
A late consolation goal for the Eagles, scored by Mady Diarra, was little consolation for a side so outclassed on such a major stage.