Sunday proved to be a special day in the life of Ezequiel Lavezzi. The 23-year-old Napoli forward ran out on the pitch to face Australia with two aims firmly in mind. Aside from improving on a lacklustre showing in Argentina's opening game against Côte d'Ivoire, Lavezzi was also hoping to satisfy his son's demand for a goal.
Sunday was Children's Day in Argentina and when little Tomas Lavezzi spoke to his father on the telephone he had a very special request to make. "Can you score a goal for me?" asked the three-year-old. Happily, the man they call El Pocho made his boy's dream come true by netting 14 minutes from time to secure a 1-0 win for his side against the compact Olyroos, a result that took the South Americans into the last eight.
"Thank goodness I got the goal," the former San Lorenzo man told FIFA.com. "It's Children's Day back home today and Tomas asked me to score one for him. It's nice to be able to dedicate that a goal to him and it was a relief for me too." Aware that he was below his best against the Ivorians on day one, when he was replaced in the second half by Angel di Maria, Lavezzi knew he had to deliver against the Australians.
"I didn't play well and I have to say I wasn't very happy about it. I'm always pushing myself and I want to do my very best for the team. I'm delighted I got the goal, though, as it's going to give me a lot of confidence for the games ahead."
Another man who was pleased with Lavezzi's performance was Albiceleste coach Sergio Batista. "He isn't on top form but I've got every confidence in him because he's an important player with the talent to match. All he needs is one chance to win a game and that's exactly what happened today."
Six passes, one ticket to the quarters
With less than a quarter of an hour remaining in Shanghai and Australia holding firm at the back, a goalless draw looked inevitable. Argentina's band of gifted performers had other ideas, however, and conjured up a magical goal to snatch the points.
"It was a quick move with a lot of first-time passes, and that's what pulled the defenders out of position," explains perhaps the least well-known member of the Argentinian attack. "I pulled away to the far post and hit the ball first time with my right foot. It was an important goal because it took us through to the next round and has given us even more confidence. We're improving and we're playing well at times."
Although there is a final Group A match against Serbia still to come, Lavezzi is already dreaming of emulating Carlos Tevez and Co, the winners of a gold medal at Athens 2004. "I remember supporting that team as just another fan. They played great football and fully deserved to be champions, and I just hope we can do the same. The fact is I never imagined myself at the Olympic Games, but now I'm here I want to win gold."
As he watches Daddy in action thousands of kilometres away, little Tomas expects nothing less.