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Chelsea Cruise Past Rangers

Chelsea cruise past Rangers with two goals from Daniel SturridgeAndré Villas-Boas will not find the Britannia Stadium half as welcoming as Ibrox, but Chelsea's manager will hope for a similarly comfortable occasion to the one he encountered in Glasgow.

This was a friendly in the truest sense of the word. Both sets of supporters sang the same songs, with each applauding the opposition team's goals. When Rangers and Chelsea meet, there is never a shortage of mutual appreciation, laced with verse about the British empire. The disparity in resources between the clubs means there is little prospect of matters being more meaty on the field.

Villas-Boas watched his players recover from a pedestrian start to win with plenty to spare. There was only the minor irritation of a first goal conceded in six pre-season matches and an injury sustained by the midfielder Mikel John Obi.

Onwards, now, to the start of the Premier League season and a Sunday date at a tricky venue. "I am pretty happy," said Villas-Boas. "We created a lot of chances. It was a good test, again. Now we will lose a lot of players for the international break, but, hopefully, they will all return fit and we can prepare [for Stoke] from Thursday."

Chelsea's manager explained that Mikel had suffered an injury in training. Despite the Nigerian taking a pain-killing injection before the Rangers game, he encountered further trouble and is now a doubt for the Stoke game.

"We still have a lot of options in midfield," Villas-Boas added. The Portuguese coach insisted he would have no qualms about fielding the 18-year-old Josh McEachran in Stoke if Mikel fails to recover.

Villas-Boas's other injury worry relates to David Luiz, who has missed training because of a knee problem.

Rangers have already opened their domestic campaign and been bundled out of the Champions League at the qualifying phase. Their manager, Ally McCoist, blooded a host of youngsters here, partly through necessity rather than choice.

There was, therefore, little shock about Chelsea's vastly superior football, which at least should have been appreciated by a healthy Ibrox attendance of more than 47,000. Commercially, this was a success for Rangers even if in football terms there looked little to gain. "There were a lot of encouraging signs," said McCoist. "I had a good chat with André before the game, I'm going to see him again now and we'll talk about a few things."

Needless to say, McCoist will have asked his Chelsea counterpart about the possibility of taking players on loan. "It would be ridiculous of me if I wasn't to use the contacts I have," the Rangers manager explained.

Stoke's manager Tony Pulis took his seat in the Ibrox main stand for this friendly with next weekend in mind. He and Villas-Boas would have noted Daniel Sturridge's The 21-year-old spent the second half of last season on loan at Bolton Wanderers, with his return offering Chelsea's new manager an attacking threat which, on this evidence, he would be wise to use. form. Not only did Sturridge tease the Rangers defence during his hour on the field, he notched a couple of goals for good measure.

A pre-match glance at the team sheet and respective substitutes' benches suggested Rangers could be embarrassed. Villas-Boas named Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka as replacements; McCoist filled his squad with some players even the Rangers support would struggle to know much about.

Yet the hosts opened brightly, with their recently-departed manager Walter Smith in attendance. Nikica Jelavic the game's opening goal, headed home from a perfect cross by Steven Naismith. Jelavic's intervention roused Chelsea, whose defence, in particular, had looked shaky in the early stages. Sturridge lashed home an equaliser before sending the visitors in front on the half hour. The only concern for Villas-Boas thereafter was the departure of Mikel, two minutes before the interval, because of an issue with his left ankle.

Fernando Torres, who had been more lively outside the penalty area than in it, was replaced by Drogba during the break. The latter set up another substitute, Malouda, who headed Chelsea's third goal of the afternoon.

A rare instance of an unsuccessful Frank Lampard penalty followed. Juan Ortiz hauled down Drogba inside the area, with the England midfielder watching his fierce effort from 12 yards well stopped by Neil Alexander. McCoist is patently lacking in squad resources but, in Alexander, he has a perfectly able deputy to Allan McGregor.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ewan Murray at Ibrox, for The Observer on Saturday 6th August 2011 20.22 Europe/London

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