Goals from Elderson Echiejile, Emmanuel Emenike and Musa Ahmed, plus an own-goal from ex-Liverpool midfielder Momo Sissoko, secured the Super Eagles’ place in the final, while Cheick Diarra grabbed a late consolation.
After a nervy start, Nigeria were the first to take charge, with Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel almost breaking the deadlock with a dipped strike, just clearing the Mali bar.
In balance with the run of play Nigeria opened the scoring midway through the first half through a touch of class from the Super Eagles.
Chelsea star Moses whipped in a wicked cross, after a superb piece of skill, for Braga left-back Echiejile who stooped low for a diving header.
Minutes later Nigeria doubled their lead through Emenike, off Brown Ideye, who bundled in from close range after a storming run.
Nigeria then took advantage of a Malian defensive blunder when an Emenike free kick from 20 yards struck Sissoko in the wall, wrong-footing Mamadou Samassa, creeping in just inside the left-hand post.
Mali left a lot of work to do and minutes after the restart Seydou Keita almost gave the Eagles a dream start but fluffed the chance from eight yards out.
Mali’s hopes of reaching the final seemed over as Musa Ahmed took advantage of the offside-trap to slide the shot under Mali keeper Samassa.
Mali managed a consolation goal 15 minutes from time through the partnership of two substitutes.
Tidiane Diabbate showboated his way on the left before the ball fell to Diarra, 15 yards out, who placed the shot low into the Nigeria net.
Former Everton defender Joseph Yobo replaced Efe Ambrose to help see the Super Eagles through to the final.
Mali were determined to exit the competition in style with a flurry of chances in the final few minutes of added time, but Patrice Caterson’s side left it too late.
MORE: Man United latest news
MORE: Arsenal latest news
MORE: Chelsea latest news
MORE: Liverpool latest news