Inter rally falls short in Toronto

Sluggish start dooms European champions at Rogers Centre

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After a sluggish first half that saw UEFA Champions League winners Inter Milan give up three goals over a 20-minute stretch, the Italian side was able to rally back to within one before eventually falling 3-2 to Panathinaikos on Tuesday night in a friendly at Rogers Centre.

The Greek side dominated the early goings behind the play of French striker Djibril Cissé, who notched goals in the 13th and 22nd minutes before spreading the wealth to Argentine Sebastián Leto, who picked up a goal of his own in the 42nd minute.

Samuel Eto’o, who started his first match since his run with Cameroon in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, struck back in the 32nd minute after the ball ricocheted from Victor Obinna to Goran Pandev, finally finding the foot of Cameroonian for the finish.

The second half saw both sides working in substitutes with little success – that is, until the 74th minute, when Inter head coach Rafa Benítez inserted his fleet of World Cup superstars. Maicon, Lúcio, Sulley Muntari, Walter Samuel and Diego Milito all entered the game simultaneously to a standing ovation from the Toronto crowd.

The noticeable change in pace, coupled with several chances created by rumored transfer target Maicon, finally resulted in a goal in the 85th minute by 18-year-old phenom Philippe Coutinho.

The score held for a 3-2 victory by Panathinaikos, who will next face AC Milan in Pontiac, Mich., on Aug. 6. Inter Milan, who captured a first-ever Italian treble in May, will finish their North American tour on Thursday night in Texas when they take on MLS side FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco.

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Scoring Summary:

PAO – Djibril Cisse (Sotirios Ninis) 13

PAO – Djibril Cisse (unassisted) 22

INTER – Samuel Eto’o (unassisted) 32

PAO – Sebastien Leto (Sotirios Ninis) 42

INTER – Philippe Coutinho 85

Misconduct Summary:

INTER – Ivan Cordoba (caution) 29

PAO – Georgios Karagounis (caution) 76

INTER – Dejan Stankovic (caution) 82

INTER – Sulley Muntari (caution) 90+

Lineups:

Inter Milan – Ivan Cordoba, Javier Zanetti (Felice Natalino 18), Samuel Eto’o, MacDonald Mariga, Esteban Cambiasso, Joel Chukwuma Obi, Paolo Orlandoni, Marco Materazzi, Christian Chivu, Goran Pandev, Victor Nsofor Obinna Subs 74: Maicon, Lucio, Muntari, Samuel, Santon, Milito

Panathinaikos FC – Josu Sarriegi, Sotirios Ninis (Elin Dimoutsos 79), Cedric Kante, Djibril Cisse (Antonios Petropoulos 79), Sidney Govou (Stergos Marinos 61), Sebastian Eduardo Leto, Simao Mate Junior, Loukas Vyntra (Georgios Seitaridis 61), Konstantinos Katsouranis (Georgios Karagounis 61), Alexandros Tzorvas, Nikolaos Spyropoulos (Mattias Bjarsmyr 61)

Referee: Maurice Navarro

Referee's Assistants: Joe Fletcher; Michael Lambert

4th Official: Justin Taser

Weather: Cloudy and 86 degrees