Chelsea beat Wrexham with ease as preseason U.S. tour begins

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Mauricio Pochettino's first game as Chelsea manager ended in a comfortable 5-0 win over Wrexham as the two teams began their U.S. tours.

Netherlands Under-21 defender Ian Maatsen -- playing in a more attacking position on the left flank -- scored twice in the first half before substitutes Conor Gallagher, Christopher Nkunku and Ben Chilwell all scored in the final 10 minutes in front of a sell-out 50,596 crowd at the Kenan Memorial Stadium.

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Pochettino picked an experimental lineup with Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke among the big names left out of the squad altogether as they build up their fitness.

However, new signings Malo Gusto, Andrey Santos, Diego Moreira and Nicolas Jackson all started in a 4-3-3 shape and it took the Blues less than three minutes to take charge against their League Two opponents.

Jackson found a pocket of space in Wrexham's half to turn and drive towards Ben Foster's goal, slipping a pass through to Maatsen who sidefooted into the net.

The 21-year-old's second goal on 42 minutes was the product of another clever link-up on as Maatsen exchanged passes with Carney Chukwuemeka before slotting a low shot inside Foster's left-hand post from the edge of the box.

Pochettino was at his most animated at half-time when remonstrating with referee Marcos De Oliveira, who whistled for the interval just as Chelsea threatened to break clear on a dangerous counter-attack.

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"I am happy because of the attitude," Pochettino said after the match. "It is time to improve now, but it is part of the process in this period of learning in the way we want to play and building the physical condition also. I am happy with the performance and now [we must] keep going."

Chelsea made six changes at the break with Nkunku, Sterling, Angelo Borges and Gallagher among those introduced as Maatsen, Jackson, Moreira and Chukwuemeka were replaced.

The game waned in competitiveness as the second half wore on, Gallagher found the net after 81 minutes when Sterling cut infield and squared the ball to his England colleague, whose low drive should really have been saved by substitute goalkeeper Rob Lainton.

Nkunku then raced clear to latch onto Cesare Casadei's through ball, rounding Lainton and finishing high into the net before Chilwell dinked the ball home with the final touch of the game.

Pochettino will likely be pleased with promising signs from several players including Jackson and Santos, who operated at the base of midfield -- an area of the team the Argentine admitted needs strengthening in the transfer market as they continue their pursuit of Brighton's Moises Caicedo.

Nkunku, a £52 million signing from RB Leipzig, also took his goal well -- another encouraging moment for a team that struggled badly for goals last season prior to Pochettino's appointment on July 1.

"The most important thing now is to get good feelings," Pochettino said about Nkunku. "We start again to play after the holidays. All the players came in a different level and now it is about putting them all in a similar level to compete for the things we want to compete."

Chelsea's next game is against Brighton in Philadelphia on Saturday before playing Newcastle United on July 26 in Atlanta.

The tour for owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney's Wrexham side continues with games against LA Galaxy II, Manchester United and Philadelphia Union II in the coming week.

After the match, Pochettino said that Reece James, who is still working his way back from an injury setback, would fly out to join the team on their tour as he worked his way back to fitness.