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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said his side can now switch focus to catching Premier League leaders Liverpool after securing Champions League progress.
City only managed a 1-1 draw at home to Shakhtar Donetsk but a point was enough to see them through to the last 16 with a game to spare in Group C.
“Now we have one competition already done, and now our focus will be the Premier League,” Guardiola told BT Sport “The target was to qualify and we have done it.”
City sit nine points behind Liverpool in the league and know they cannot afford to lose further ground as the winter months arrive and fixtures pile-up.
However, with safe passage to the next stage secured as group winners, Guardiola and City know they can rest players for the final match of the first round away at Zagreb.
City were denied a victory when Manor Solomon cancelled out Ilkay Gundogan’s opener at the Etihad.
The German midfielder echoed his manager’s feelings at full time, acknowledging that more important matches lie ahead as they look to retain their domestic crown.
“In the Premier League we are nine points behind the leaders which is not what we are aiming for” Gundogan admitted. “We have dropped unnecessary points in a few games already, and to remain at the top, you are not allowed to.”
Liverpool could also go through this week but face a tough match against Napoli at Anfield.
The European champions also have the Club World Cup to contend with in December adding to their fixture congestion.
Having lost three times in the league already however, Gundogan knows City need to rediscover the consistency of years gone by if they are to put themselves back in the title picture.
“We need to be there if Liverpool slip and we are through in the Champions League,” he added “But there is still plenty of work to improve. Not results, but more the way we play."
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