Serie A

Ibrahimovic banned for three games

Big blow for AC Milan’s title hopes as striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been suspended for three matches for his red card against Napoli, meaning he will miss the top-of-the-table clash with Serie A leaders Juventus.

Ibra was sent off midway through the second half of Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Napoli at the San Siro after he slapped opponent Salvatore Aronica in an off-the-ball incident.

The incident was spotted by an assistant referee, and Ibrahimovic was shown a red card. The Italian league has deemed the offence one of violent conduct, which carries an automatic three-match ban. Milan have already announced that they will appeal the decision.

If the suspension is not reduced Ibrahimovic will miss league trips to Udinese and Cesena before Juve come to Milan on February 25.

This is the second consecutive season that Ibra has been sent off for punching an opponent. Last season he picked up a straight red for punching Bari’s Marco Rossi in the stomach: he was given a three-day ban following referee Brighi’s report, but following an appeal to the High Court, this was reduced to two (from ‘violent conduct’ it was reduced to ‘gravely unsporting behaviour’). Could the same thing happen here? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Not having Ibrahimovic, second behind Antonio Di Natale in the scoring charts with 15 league goals this season, for the next three league matches is a big blow to Milan’s title hopes and could well give the title to Juventus.