City gave Liverpool a guard of honour before kick-off as they paid tribute to their rivals’ achievement, but were not as obliging on the field.
Sterling won a penalty for the first goal, before scoring the second and playing a part in another as City ran out 4-0 winners.
While City are unable to catch the league leaders, they made a statement with the thumping victory, and Sterling explained how it stemmed from Guardiola’s team talk.
“The manager said that next season started today,” Sterling said. “We had a test to make a point and we did brilliantly.”
Liverpool had started well and even hit the post early on, but were soon pegged back by City, who scored three times in 20 minutes to put the match firmly in their favour.
An own goal from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then put the game to bed, and Guardiola hopes the win can help spur his side on to success in the Champions League.
“It’s important, especially because Liverpool were incredibly focused,” Guardiola said. “They didn’t even say thank you (for a guard of honour), just focused.
“That’s why they are champions of Europe and the Premier League.
“They had drunk a lot of beers but they arrived here without beer in their blood. That is why we deserve credit. This will help us, especially for Real Madrid.”
Despite Liverpool having the title already wrapped up, they are still targeting City’s record Premier League points total, and boss Jurgen Klopp was clearly aggrieved to suffer just the second defeat of their league campaign.
“We had our moments where we were really close to make something but City were really there. They used our mistakes, we didn’t use their mistakes,” Klopp said.
“The game was open but it clicked more for City than for us.
“If there is a team in the world that can smash us like this it is probably City but we will come again.
“Make a few things better and it could look differently but for tonight that is it.”
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