Pep Guardiola confident Manchester City will be in Champions League next season

Ed Elliot, PA
·3-min read

Pep Guardiola is confident Manchester City will be playing Champions League football next season after a hat-trick from Raheem Sterling helped blow away Brighton.

Sterling’s superb treble and goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva earned City a 5-0 success at the Amex Stadium which assures them of finishing runners-up to runaway Premier League champions Liverpool.

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.

City boss Guardiola is extremely optimistic about receiving positive news.

“It’s the decision, so it’s so important, of course it is,” the Spaniard said of the appeal verdict.

“What we have done is win our qualification on the pitch. Nobody can doubt about this.

Southampton v Manchester City – Premier League – St Mary’s Stadium
Pep Guardiola feels City’s performance on the pitch has earned them their right to play in Europe (Will Oliver/NMC Pool/PA)

“In general the level we played today was quite similar all the season and now we are going to wait until Monday when the decision of UEFA will be taken.”

Asked if he was hopeful about the appeal being successful, Guardiola replied: “A lot.”

In-form Sterling now has 27 club goals for the season in all competitions, the most prolific campaign of his career to date.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City – Premier League – Amex Stadium
Raheem Sterling has scored 27 goals this season (Catherine Ivill/NMC Pool/PA)

The England international curled in the 21st-minute opener before heading home his second early in the second period after Jesus doubled the advantage two minutes before the break.

After Portuguese Silva added a fourth on the rebound, Sterling claimed the match ball in bizarre fashion nine minutes from time by nodding in while on the floor to claim his seventh goal in as many games since football returned.

Guardiola was delighted with the 25-year-old’s contribution.

“(He has) all my respect. All the credit is for him, not just for the three goals, he is always important for what we have ahead of us,” said Guardiola.

“His development as a player is because he wants to improve and we are so delighted for his performance today.

“I don’t have to tell many things to Raheem. Raheem knows exactly what he has to do. He’s a huge competitor, self confident, aggressive, he loves to score goals.”

Brighton boss Graham Potter admitted the game was a difficult watch but was reluctant to criticise his players.

Albion, beaten 3-1 at home by champions Liverpool on Wednesday, failed to register an attempt on target and stay eight points above the relegation zone.

“Manchester City were very, very good. First half we were OK but you are always on the stretch against them, they’ve got such quality,” said Potter.

Graham Potter File Photo
Graham Potter admitted his side were not at the races (Nick Potts/PA)

“The second goal is the real disappointing one from our perspective in terms of the timing and the manner of it. And then they’ve got confidence and second half wasn’t pleasant for us in terms of an experience.

“But Manchester City and Liverpool in four days is a tough ask and we weren’t good enough today to get anything.

“I’m not going to beat the boys up too much. We can be better, we know that.

“But at the same time the opposition were fantastic tonight, they really test you and they were worthy winners.

“We lost against Liverpool but I think we felt OK about it, today we don’t really feel OK about it.

“At the same time I don’t want to throw the guys under the bus because they’ve done brilliantly in terms of the lockdown, how they’ve handled themselves, how they’ve worked in the games.

“We just have to dust ourselves down.”