Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City deserve their place in next season’s Champions League ahead of Monday’s decision on their appeal against a two-year European ban.
Raheem Sterling’s superb hat-trick and goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva earned City a 5-0 success against Brighton at the Amex Stadium, which assures them of finishing runners-up to Premier League champions Liverpool and secures them qualification to the Champions League next season.
However, the club will on Monday discover the outcome of their appeal against a two-year ban from European club competitions following alleged breaches of club licensing and financial fair play regulations.
Guardiola, speaking to Sky Sports, says his players deserve to be in next season’s compeition after earning their place on the pitch.
“Today we achieved one incredible challenge, which is qualification for the Champions League mathematically,” he said.
“That is the challenge that is the minimum requirement for this club. And these players have done it for the last six or seven years.
“We deserve to be there because we won it on the pitch. Hopefully on Monday UEFA can allow us to play like this team and these players deserve to.”
While hopes of lifting the Premier League title were ended long ago, City still hope to add Champions League and FA Cup trophies to the Carabao Cup they won in February.
And Guardiola says his team are now ready for the final stages of the season following their emphatic win over Brighton.
“I was pleased with everything tonight – the result and the levels we reached,” he added.
“We are now at a good level and are ready to play the last games of the Premier League and in the Champions League.
“We’ve forgotten the Southampton result (1-0 defeat last Sunday) as we played incredibly well there.
Football sometimes is strange. We just didn’t score there. We’re a team who create a lot of chances and today we converted them.”
Finally, Raheem Sterling believes his goals will only mean something if they help Manchester City to more silverware.
The England forward took his tally to 17 Premier League goals for the campaign as he netted a hat-trick in City’s 5-0 thrashing of Brighton on Saturday.
City are still hoping to end the season with a treble and Sterling – whose goals on Saturday saw him pass the 30-mark in all competitions for club and country – hopes to play his part.