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“MY FOCUS NOW ON PREMIER LEAGUE”: PEP DIVERTS ATTENTION AFTER UCL QUALIFICATION

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said it’s “time to focus on the Premier League” after his side drew 1-1 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday to qualify for the UEFA Champions League last 16.

One point against Shakhtar was enough to ensure City will top Group C regardless of the result when they travel to Dinamo Zagreb in their last pool fixture on December 11. 

The Citizens remain third in the Premier League, however, and trail leaders Liverpool by nine points.

Guardiola told reporters after Tuesday’s game: “It is time to focus on the Premier League. We’ll see which conditions we arrive with (in the last 16)—it’s about the details. Now we have one competition already done, and now our focus is the league until we arrive in the cups. The target was to qualify, and we have done it.

City are five points clear in Group C after Manor Solomon scored in the 69th minute to clinch a share of the spoils for Shakhtar following Ilkay Gundogan’s breakthrough at the Etihad Stadium

The defending Premier League champions have now won just one of their last four games in all competitions, including draws in each of their last two European outings (1-1 away to Atalanta on Nov. 6).

Guardiola and Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp recently each gave speeches at the Football Writers’ Association Awards. There, the Catalan joked he’d be happy to swap his Premier League title for Klopp’s Champions League crown

Cracking Europe’s premier competition remains a major focus for the Manchester titans, whose run to the semi-finals in 2015-16 remains their only venture past the last eight.

Gundogan also spoke to reporters following Tuesday’s game and conceded that City’s performance levels thus far haven’t been enough to lead England’s top flight:

“Unfortunately we got a draw which we have to accept, but we qualify as group winners which is the most important thing. We knew this game would be tough.

“It is not what we are aiming for, but this is the situation you have to deal with. We have dropped unnecessary points in a few games already, and to remain at the top, you are not allowed to.

“We need to be there if Liverpool slip and we are through in the Champions League, but there is still plenty of work to improve. Not results, but more the way we play.”

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