John Mikel Obi, Victor Moses and Kenneth Omeruo have helped Nigeria through to their first African Cup of Nations final since 2000, with a 4-0 win over Mali in the semis in Durban on Wednesday.
They will now face the winner of the second semi, Ghana and Burkina Faso, in Sunday’s final.
The Super Eagles were the better side throughout in this game though, and took full control of the game well before half-time, establishing a 3-0 lead before the break, meaning they will be in confident mood whoever they face at the final hurdle.
Once again, all three Blues were prominent, with Moses creating the first goal before being substituted as a precaution early in the second half.
Fourteen minutes in Mikel’s long ball into the box found Emmanuel Emenike, whose shot was well saved by the goalkeeper before Moses saw his follow-up deflected behind.
Shortly afterwards it was Mikel himself going close, half-volleying just wide from well outside the area, and it would not be long before Nigeria went in front.
Moses was the creator, outfoxing his marker with a nutmeg down the right before crossing between the goalkeeper and defence to pick out Uwa Echiejile at the far post, allowing him a simple header into the net.
The lead was doubled just before the 30-minute mark with Moses again involved, supplying the pass to release Emenike down the wing, and he squared for Brown Ideye to convert.
A minute before half-time Emenike’s free-kick, laid off to him by Mikel, was deflected past the Mali goalkeeper to make it 3-0, and set the Nigerians up for their first final appearance in 13 years.
Moses was forced off with a knock to the foot just into the second half, but that didn’t stop Nigeria from looking for more goals, and on the hour mark another rangy Mikel pass set Ahmed Musa beyond the hapless Mali defence, and he slotted home through the goalkeeper’s legs to make it four.
The same player thought he had scored a fifth a moment later but the referee ruled it out for offside, and then at the other end Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeama made a superb one-handed save after a mix-up between Omeruo and his defensive partner.
The Malians would get their consolation though, when substitute Cheik Diarra turned home from close range.