Rome: Italy on Friday celebrated a double victory for its two "Super Marios" Balotelli and Monti after its triumph over Germany in the Euro 2012 semi-final and the outcome of the euro crisis summit.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper merged the two events, showing Prime Minister Monti in a front-page cartoon dressed as a football referee, sticking out his tongue at German Chancellor Angela Merkel as if blowing for a foul.
But instead of a whistle, the sound coming out his mouth was "spread" -- the difference between the interest rates crisis-hit Italy and economic powerhouse Germany must pay to borrow.
As well as praising Balotelli's two goals in Warsaw that took the Azzurri to Sunday's final against Spain, the daily's cartoonist hailed the success of the head of government in securing an agreement on "stabilisation mechanisms".
For the centre-left La Repubblica, Monti played Italy's "veto card" in Brussels and launched an "ultimatum" to Germany: no green light on growth without a security net for the Italian and Spanish markets.
After tense talks in Brussels that stretched almost till dawn, eurozone leaders came to a surprise agreement to try to help Italy and Spain calm their markets and inject 120 billion euros ($150 billion) to relaunch the European economy.
Attempts to introduce financial stabilisation measures in the troubled eurozone had until then hit opposition from a number of countries, in particular Germany.
The accord paves the way for the eurozone's 500-billion-euro bailout fund to recapitalise ailing banks directly, without passing through national budgets and thus adding to struggling countries' debt mountains.
The Corriere della Sera and Rome's Messagero congratulated Monti for "holding a firm line" while at the same time praising "a magic Italy" at Euro 2012.
Enthused by the exploits of Cesare Prandelli's team on the pitch, one columnist in the Corriere adjudged that "if the Germans are Europe's bosses, they're not in football".
"In football, we're the Germans," he added.
Among those congratulating the Italians on Friday was Pope Benedict XVI -- the German-born pontiff who also has the title of bishop of Rome.
"As Bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI takes part in the joy of the faithful," said his spokesman Federico Lombardi.
Like the handful of Italian fans seen in the stands at Warsaw's National Stadium dressed as video game characters, other commentators drew parallels between "Super Mario" Monti and 21-year-old Manchester City striker Balotelli.
Even the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, who is considered as having saved the euro at the end of 2011 with a strong injection of liquidity, was brought in to the mix.
"Goal or spread: Italy counts on the Mario factor," ran one headline in the economic daily Sole-24 Ore, next to photos of Balotelli clutching his jersey, Monti on the telephone and Draghi, adding: "The importance of being called Mario."
Germany's Der Spiegel picked up the theme, assessing that "Monti emerged from the late-night talks like a real victor having managed to break down the resistance of Chancellor Angela Merkel just as the Italian striker breached the German defence in Warsaw".
Story first published on: Friday, 29 June 2012 20:04 IST