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Roma forward Destro banned 3 matches for punching opponent

Photo: Daniela Santoni/AP

Roma forward Mattia Destro, who scored a hat trick against Cagliari, has been banned three games for punching an opponent in the same game.

ROME (AP) - Roma forward Mattia Destro was banned for three matches Tuesday for punching Cagliari defender Davide Astori, handing the second-place squad a big blow for its faint Serie A title hopes.

The ban could also affect Destro's selection chances for Italy's World Cup squad, due to national team coach Cesare Prandelli's code of ethics.

The incident occurred during the first half of Roma's 3-1 win Sunday, in which Destro scored a hat trick. It was the first hat trick of Destro's career and it brought his scoring total to 13 goals in 18 matches since starting his injury-delayed season in December.

While Destro was not sanctioned by the referee, he was cautioned in the match for another incident and due to accumulated cards will miss another game, meaning he'll be unavailable for four of Roma's six remaining matches - pending a possible appeal.

Roma trails Italian league leader Juventus by eight points and hosts the Bianconeri in the penultimate round.

Roma's problems mounted as defender Mehdi Benatia was ruled out for a month with a left leg muscle tear.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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