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Ian Maatsen grabs a double and Christopher Nkunku shines as Mauricio Pochettino kicks off Chelsea tenure with a bang

MAURICIO POCHETTINO oversaw a five-star display on his maiden outing as Chelsea boss.

Ian Maatsen, 21 – who sparkled on loan at Championship-winning Burnley last season – grabbed two first half goals in a comfortable pre-season display for the young Blues.


Mauricio Pochettino took charge of his first Chelsea game in North CarolinaCredit: Getty
Ian Maatsen grabbed a first half double for the Blues


Ian Maatsen grabbed a first half double for the BluesCredit: Getty

Poch’s starting XI had an average age of just under 20-years-old as he gave a number of teenage hopefuls the chance to shine against Wrexham out in the humid town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Conor Gallagher then stepped off the bench to get on the scoresheet late on, as did £52m new-boy Christopher Nkunku and Ben Chilwell.

Two of Chelsea’s four summer signings thus far started from the off, including £32m striker Nicolas Jackson, who would have impressed his new coach with his lightning speed.

In the second half, Poch made six changes with the likes of seniors Gallager, Chilwell and Raheem Sterling trotting out, as well as Nkunku and Angelo.

It is still early, but in the early hours, Poch-ball got underway – and the Argentine coach even had his first referee bust-up to get his tenure well and truly up and running.

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It was a 50,000 sell-out at the Kenan Stadium, a far cry from the last meeting between these two in 1982 when less than 4,000 attended to watch the old Division Two clash.

The Chelsea fans across the pond got to see some fresh faces, including new winger Diego Moreira, 18, and Brazilian wonderkid – and January arrival – Andrey Santos, 19, in midfield.

The latter was a stand-out, giving Poch something to think about regarding whether to keep or loan him out this campaign.

Several other academy kids were given their debuts, with only Trevoh Chalobah – captain for the night – Marc Cucurella and Carney Chukwuemeka having represented the club before this one.


Among those missing from the matchday squad was Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk, Levi Colwill and Noni Madueke – the latter trio having enjoyed a summer at the U21s Euros.

Pochettino had an altercation with the referee on the stroke of half time


Pochettino had an altercation with the referee on the stroke of half timeCredit: Getty

Yet there were still plenty of players for Poch to feast his eyes on at the start of this United States two-week blow-out, none more so than Jackson after his summer switch from Villarreal.

The Senegalese international is a real Poch sort of player – rapid and tricky with the ball at his feet and capable of using his athletic, bruising physique when needed.

Jackson showed all of these traits to tee up Maatsen’s opener after just three minutes, darting around one defender and driving goalwards only to be unselfish in the box.

Other than the odd set piece or long ball up field, Wrexham barely tested Jamie Cumming in between the Chelsea sticks.

The West Londoners doubled their lead with three minutes left of the half, Maatsen exchanging a one-two with Chukwuemeka on the edge of the box before slotting past Ben Foster.

A wrath of changes at the break ensured the second half lacked a bit of fluidity as Sterling wasted a glorious headed chance from close range.

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The England international made up for it with an assist for Gallagher’s first time attempt into the bottom corner.

The floodgates soon opened. Cesare Casadei played in Nkunku to round the keeper and fire home before Chilwell netted in injury time.

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