Nigeria's four-star show
© AFP

A fantastic team performance, capped by a brace from Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi, ensured Nigeria beat Belgium 4-1 to become the first team to reach the final of this year's Men's Olympic Football Tournament.

The opening half was dominated by Samson Siasia's side, and their attacking verve threatened to carve open their opponents' defence. Much of the initial prompting came from Peter Odemwingie, whose pace and trickery had Belgium on the back foot from the outset.

As early as the first minute, the Lokomotiv Moscow forward broke quickly down the left and crossed the ball into the box. Logan Bailly, recovered from the shoulder injury that forced his early exit from the quarter-final win over Italy, palmed it away but his clearance fell into the path of Ebenezer Ajilore. He fed Sani Kaita, whose shot was saved by the Belgian keeper.

A defensive slip from Nigeria almost gave the Europeans a great opportunity to score. Onyekachi Apam allowed the ball to bounce over his head, but although Kevin Mirallas reacted quickly, his shot went wide of the target.

The 17th minute was action-packed and resulted in the game's first goal. Ogbuke Obasi ran down the right wing, twisting and turning his way past his Belgian adversaries, before unleashing a shot which was expertly turned around the post by Bailly.

From the resulting corner, Victor Obinna played the ball to Odemwingie and he found Femi Ajilore, whose shot was blocked. The Belgian backline could only partially clear the ball, which fell into the path of Olubayo Adefemi, and he rifled a shot home from 18 yards.

Nigeria almost lost their concentration - and their lead - in the minute immediately after the goal. Anthony Van den Borre's run found Tom De Mul, who was denied by some last-ditch defending.

Yet, after regaining their composure, it was Dream Team IV, as they are known in their homeland, who looked the more likely to score. Solomon Okoronkwo beat his marker for pace and got himself into a good position, but flashed his shot wide with just the goalkeeper to beat.

Odemwingie will have also been disappointed to not at least test the keeper from close range after being supplied by Ogbuke Obasi, and a single goal separated the sides at half-time.

Nigeria faced the happy conundrum of whether to defend their lead or push for a second after the interval, and the confusion almost took its toll when Belgium had two great chances to score after the restart. First, Moussa Dembele supplied Mirallas, who brought out a fine save from Ambruse Vanzekin. Then, Jan Vertonghen's first-time volley from De Mul's corner was smothered by the keeper at his far post.

Siasia sent on Victor Anichebe for Okoronkwo and he had an immediate impact, setting up Ogbuke Obasi to side-foot home on the hour mark, although the Everton striker missed a golden opportunity minutes later, hitting the ball wide of the target with the goal at his mercy - and most Nigerian fans already celebrating.

That miss was forgotten, however, when Ogbuke Obasi scored his second and Nigeria's third with a rasping drive from the edge of the box with 17 minutes to go. The right-footed strike will surely go down as one of the goals of the tournament, and dispelled any doubt that the Africans would reach the final.

Six minutes later, they added another. Obinna's corner from the left was taken short to Chibuzor Okonkwo, and his shot cannoned off the post and into the net. Substitute Ekpo Emmanuel brought out a flying save from Bailly as Nigeria threatened to run riot, but Belgium grabbed a small consolation when Laurent Ciman smashed home a free-kick in the 89th minute.

The goal, however, was hardly celebrated as three minutes later it was Nigeria rejoicing at the fact that they had become the first team to book their place in the Olympic Village and the Bird's Nest Stadium for the final, while Belgium must battle for bronze.