Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes his players deserve to play in the Champions League next season following a 5-0 smashing of Brighton on Saturday.
The victory has sealed second spot in the Premier League for City but their place in the next Champions League campaign remains up in the air with a formal decision on their two-year European ban to be handed down on Monday.
Guardiola has always stressed the club's innocence in relation to alleged Financial Fair Play breaches and is hopeful his players will be rewarded for their performances like the one against Brighton with Champions League football next season.
“I was pleased with everything tonight – the result and the levels we reached,” Guardiola told Sky Sports. “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 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.
“We’ve qualified for the Champions League which was the minimum requirement for this club. And these players have done it for the last six or seven years.
“We won it on the pitch and hopefully on Monday UEFA will allow these players to play next season. They deserve to be in the Champions League.”
Raheem Sterling stole the show on Saturday as he scored his third hat-trick of the season in what's been his most prolific campaign in front of goal.
“For a long time, he has been getting better,” Guardiola said of his English winger. “His finishing, his shooting and that’s because he trains hard.
“It’s good for us to have him at the end of the season.”
Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus, meanwhile, ended his goal drought and Guardiola was quick to stress there's more to his game than just finding the back of the net.
“He fought well. Before he scored, we had been delighted with his performances," Guardiola said.
"Tonight he didn’t just get his goal, he made lots of good chances too. It’s unbelievable that he’s scored.”