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Mali 1-4 Nigeria


Super Eagles: Celebrations all round

Super Eagles: Celebrations all round

Nigeria hardly gave it their all as they whipped Mali 4-1 in their Africa Cup of Nations semi-final match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday.


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Elderson Echiejile, Brown Ideye and Ahmed Musa scored in the 25th, 30th, and 60th minutes respectively, with Momo Sissoko contributing a 44th minute own goal, while Cheick Diarra got the consolation goal in the 75th.

The Super Eagles put on a good show but against a below-par Mali they hardly played at their best, which should serve as a stern warning for their AFCON final opponents.

Nigeria started off with more control as Mali seemed set to absorb their play, yet it was the latter that had the first attack on goal.

Eagles left-back Adama Tamboura sped down the flank and sent in a promising cross that Godfrey Oboabona cleared for a corner-kick which was headed over by Kalilou Traore.

In the 15th minute, Ideye took the Super Eagles into Mali's big box and unleashed a low drive that Mamadou Samassa blocked with his foot.

The rebound fell in Emenike's path but he completely missed the ball which landed up at Victor Moses' feet who eventually dragged the shot wide.

Moses' confidence grew with every touch as he used his strength and speed to evade the Mali defenders who were watching him closely. Nevertheless, the Chelsea man drew two Malians to him before releasing Emenike down the right with a defence splitting pass.

The striker then provided an inch-perfect square to Echiejile who made no mistake with a header at the far post.

Five minutes later, defender Efe Ambrose released Emenike down the right with a long ball that he neatly played into the small box for the on-rushing Ideye who had to slide to steer it home.

It was all Nigeria who were amped up against a Mali side that looked vulnerable, especially in defence.

Eagles midfielder Sissoko then added to his side's woes, bringing Ideye down just outside the 18-yard area and deflecting the resultant free-kick past his keeper to give Nigeria a massive advantage.

Emenike struck the ball low and hard, but the deflection threw Samassa off who seemed to have it covered.

Mali's skipper Seydou Keita urged his players on who were visibly frustrated by the staunch Nigerian defence as well as half-chances missed, but they returned with more verve in the second half.

Keita missed just two minutes after the restart from 12 yards out with goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama looking on bewildered that his defence were not there to cover.

Nigeria then upped the ante with substitute Musa leading the charge. An inviting through-pass by John Obi Mikel set Musa free to go one-on-one with the keeper and he coolly placed the ball through his legs.

Musa was at it again two minutes later but this time the speedster was caught offside, despite hitting the back of the next from a sharp angle.

Mali tried in vain to get back in to the game but Diarra's goal was nothing more than little relief for the beaten Eagles.

Stephen Keshi's men now await the winners between Burkina Faso and Ghana in the day's later semi-final encounter.

Posted: 06/02/13 16:58

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