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Under-21s put five past defending champions

Manchester City 0-5 Spurs (Premier League 2)

Sat 12 August 2023, 15:32|Tottenham Hotspur

Our Under-21s put on a scintillating away performance to beat defending champions Manchester City 5-0 in our Premier League 2 opener on Saturday.

Yago Santiago finished off a flowing team move from defence to attack to give us the dream start inside the opening 10 minutes at City's training ground. We denied the Citizens any time to play with an aggressive press from the outset, with Jude Soonsup-Bell taking full advantage of our pressure on their back line to double the lead on 12 minutes.

As the rain came lashing down in the second half, we didn’t let conditions dampen our spirits as Damola Ajayi slotted in a composed finish two minutes after the restart before the superb Santiago doubled his tally in the 57th minute. The home side struggled to match our intensity throughout the contest with Rio Kyerematen completing the rout on 72 minutes to cap a complete opening-day display from our Development Squad.

Boosted by the return of defender Tyrell Ashcroft to the back line for the first time since September, 2022, we started in a confident mood against the three-time Premier League 2 champions. With both teams favouring a possession-based game, we showed we were more than a match for City with the ball and our defensive work-rate stifled the home side’s ability to get into their usual rhythm.

After showing a good tempo in the opening stages, we made our early dominance count when Santiago finished off a fast-flowing team move to give us the lead just seven minutes in. The build-up started with Josh Keeley in goal, went through a lovely combination of Soonsup-Bell, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Jamie Donley before the Spaniard cut inside from the left and fired in past an unsighted True Grant.

Our captain Lyons-Foster was denied by the woodwork four minutes later, rising highest from Santiago’s clipped free-kick – after City defender Isaac Smith had received a yellow card for a foul on Max Robson – to see his looping header hit the crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten. However, two minutes later, we found our second through Soonsup-Bell, the striker pouncing onto a loose ball in the box and firing high past Grant’s front post after excellent pressing from Ajayi and Donley to turn the ball over on the edge of the Citizens' area.

In a first half with little incident for Keeley between the sticks, the Sky Blues winger Joel Ndala provided a threat down their left but impressive rearguard action from our back four kept them at bay before Santiago, Nile John and Donley forced three good saves from Grant to limit us to two goals at the break. With such a dominant first-half display it would be easy to take our foot off the gas, but we showed no signs of letting up when Ajayi netted our third on 47 minutes. Good work from John and Soonsup-Bell in the middle of the park was crucial in the build-up, with the latter producing a superb through-ball assist to our number seven who nutmegged the keeper with a tidy finish.

Citizens striker Will Dickson came closest for his side two minutes later, his attempt flashing across Keeley’s goal with our stopper relieved to see the ball fall narrowly outside the post. Despite this, we showed superb control in possession to dominate proceedings and kept the ball well for long spells in the second half. As we put the home side under increasing pressure as they chased the game we soon found our fourth on 57 minutes, Santiago harrying substitute Jahmai Simpson-Pusey to win the ball back down our left before skipping past the defender on the byline and placing a lovely finish high into the net.

A flurry of substitutes just after the hour mark injected even more intensity into our play, with Will Lankshear – making his first league appearance at this level since January due to a knee injury – replacing Donley and Kyerematen coming on for Soonsup-Bell. Both substitutes were then at the heart of our fifth goal in the 72nd minute, Lankshear drawing a foul just inside our half before the quick thinking of Ajayi to take the free-kick promptly sent Kyerematen racing through on goal and he produced a pinpoint curling finish to round off a fantastic performance in style.

I'm so pleased for the players and the staff because they've put in so much effort.

Under-21s Coach Wayne Burnett

'I can't fault anyone today'

In a jubilant mood after the victory, Under-21s Coach Wayne Burnett said: "Coming to City and putting on a display like that, I'm really pleased with the way we applied ourselves today. Our work ethic was very good, some of our football at times was excellent. I was really impressed with how we took our work in training into the game from the start and the players have followed it through brilliantly - to come here and win with that scoreline is fantastic for us. I'm so pleased for the players and the staff because they've put in so much effort - I can't fault anyone today. I did say to the players: it's only one game - one very good game - but we can't get carried away. We have so many games to play. One of the players said 'if we play like that there will be a lot of teams that find it very difficult to beat us' after I spoke to the group at full-time. If the players are seeing it then it's a good thing and they deserved the win today."

Manchester City 0-5 Spurs (Premier League 2)

Manchester City: Grant, Samuel, Galvez, Smith (Simpson-Pusey 53), Alleyne, Dada-Mascoll, Hamilton (c) (Wright 67), Taylor, Oboavwoduo (Sodje 67), Ndala, Dickson. Substitutes (not used): Murray-Jones, Okeke.

Spurs: Keeley, Ashcroft (Cassanova 75), Robson, Dorrington (Sayers 84), Paskotsi, Ajayi, Lyons-Foster (c), John, Santiago, Donley (Lankshear 67), Soonsup-Bell (Kyerematen 67). Substitute (not used): Maguire.

Match data

Goals: Spurs – Santiago 7, 57, Soonsup-Bell 12, Ajayi 47, Kyerematen 72.

Yellow card: Manchester City – Smith 11.

Referee: David McNamara.

Venue: Manchester City Training Centre, Manchester.

Weather: Overcast, showery spells, 19 degrees.