Benitez brushes off Inter defeat

TORONTO - Inter Milan coach Rafael Benitez's past returned to haunt him as his side lost 3-2 to Panathinaikos in a pre-season friendly on Tuesday, but the Spaniard preferred to focus on the challenges ahead rather than dwell on defeat.

Two goals from striker Djibril Cisse and one from winger Sebastian Leto, both sold by Benitez when he was in charge of Liverpool, were enough to give the Greek double winners a well deserved win over Europe's top team from last season.

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However, the loss in his second game in charge since leaving Merseyside for the Italian giants was hardly unexpected for a man charged with filling a huge void left by departed coach Jose Mourinho.

"I expected this behaviour tonight," Benitez told reporters after following up Sunday's 3-0 friendly win over big-spending Manchester City with a disappointing display.

"There are going to be highs and lows because this is the beginning of the season.

"We played too long and too wide and it was easy for them to play."

Inter won a domestic double and the Champions League under Mourinho last season before the Portuguese moved on to Spain's Real Madrid but Benitez was quick to point out that he has inherited a side he feels will challenge again for more honours.

"We have the opportunities to win trophies... a lot of them," Benitez added. "That is the challenge and I'm pleased to be in this situation and we will try to win as much as we can."

Goals from Samuel Eto'o and Coutinho gave the scoreline a flattering look but the absence of Mario Balotelli for a second straight game, would suggest the young striker's expected move to Manchester City was imminent despite Benitez's view of events.

"I have no news, everything is like it is before," Benitez said when asked about the 19-year-old striker.

After a northern hemisphere summer that has seen a parade of European teams march through the city, Toronto appeared to be suffering from friendly fatigue with a crowd of 17,169 sprinkled through the Rogers Centre on hot, muggy evening.

Like Manchester United, who passed through Toronto in July, Inter Milan is an international sporting brand both teams using their North American tours as much for marketing purposes as training.

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