In a high-energy Barclays Under-21 Premier League contest, we took an early lead through the lively Kenny McEvoy before allowing the home side back into the game through Thierry Ambrose and Manu Garcia goals either side of the break.
Ismail Azzaoui came up with an innovative equaliser as we responded with maturity and Christian Maghoma atoned for an earlier error, which led to City’s first goal, when he nodded home from a late corner to put us back in front.
City, though, had the final word, as Bersant Celina produced a 91st-minute leveller to ensure the points were shared.
Heavy rain an hour before the game didn’t impact on the smooth playing surface at City Football Academy, with the hosts’ George Evans picking up an early booking for hauling back Shayon Harrison as he zipped in behind the defence.
We took the lead inside six minutes as Azzaoui charged down a clearance and picked out Cy Goddard on the edge of the box, the central midfielder sliding the ball to McEvoy in space inside the area on the right. He took a touch before finishing emphatically across goalkeeper Angus Gunn with his left foot.
An attempted cross from a similar position by McEvoy glanced off the crossbar two minutes later, but City weathered our early pressure and made inroads at the other end in the moments that followed.
Goalkeeper Tom Glover was right behind Celina’s speculative shot from 20 yards, the stopper denying the same player again shortly afterwards when he dived low to his left to keep out a dipping free-kick. Ambrose flashed a fierce drive past the upright in between those attempts.
Harrison went through one-on-one with Gunn at the other end just past the midway point of the first half, but the advancing keeper blocked his shot with his legs. Harrison shook that off and put his name on a free-kick 25 yards from goal shortly afterwards, but Gunn got across to catch the ball as it curled towards the top corner.
City got themselves back on level terms on 27 minutes as Celina picked Maghoma’s pocket close to the byline on the left and slid the ball across for Ambrose to fire home.
Gunn produced a fine one-handed save to keep out McEvoy’s effort after the winger cut in from the right, before City mounted a wide attack of their own with the ball being centred for Ambrose in the penalty box. Skipper Cameron Carter-Vickers was having none of it, though, and stood his ground to prevent the striker from converting.
Unfortunately, McEvoy was forced to depart the action shortly before the break with a knee injury sustained earlier in the game and it was his replacement, Emmanuel Sonupe, who was left kicking himself after another good chance was spurned in first half stoppage time.
Anton Walkes, impressive at left-back, burst down the flank and did well to keep the ball in play before passing forward to Harrison in the box. He was pushed wide by his marker, but heard the call of Sonupe as he raced into space on the opposite side and duly pulled the ball back for him to run onto. The wide man couldn’t keep his shot down, though, and it sailed over the top.
City clicked into gear quicker than we did after the interval and, after Ambrose sent another shot wide, they took a 47th-minute lead when Garcia flicked the ball through a mass of bodies on the edge of the box and latched onto it again in behind the back four – lashing high inside the near post.
We soon found our stride again and it was Azzaoui who came up with the equaliser at the second time of asking in the 52nd minute. His initial shot was blocked after he latched onto Sonupe’s right wing cross, but the Belgian youth international kept his eye on the ball and looped a header over keeper Gunn as it rebounded back to him to find the centre of the net.
A further deflected shot from Azzaoui had Gunn on duty again five minutes later, while a fierce drive from Celina at the other end was straight at Glover. Our stopper intervened again on 70 minutes to keep out Evans’ header, while Carter-Vickers slid wide following Azzaoui’s corner as we sought to get ourselves back in front.
Our determination to win the game was clear for all to see as we pushed forward with purpose in the closing moments – substitute Anthony Georgiou shooting wide after latching onto Milos Veljkovic’s pass, while Filip Lesniak popped up in the box to meet Sonupe’s latest centre but saw his effort deflected behind.
The breakthrough came from the resulting corner, though, as Georgiou floated the ball in and Maghoma rose highest in the box to send a looping header back across goal and into the top corner with 90 minutes on the watch.
The game wasn’t over, though, and City attacked down the left side with the ball being cut back to Celina in a central position – the home side’s number 10 making no mistake as he fired into the net to ensure the match ended 3-3.
Manchester City U21s: Gunn, Maffeo, Humphreys-Grant (Bryan 30), Evans, Smith-Brown (Intima 90+1), Glendon (c), Nemane (Faupala 71), Garcia, Ambrose, Celina, Barker. Substitutes (not used): Horsfield, Haug (GK).
Spurs U21s: Glover, Walker-Peters, Walkes, Veljkovic, Carter-Vickers (c), Maghoma, McEvoy (Sonupe 43), Lesniak, Harrison, Goddard (Amos 66), Azzaoui (Georgiou 78). Substitute (not used): Voss (GK).