Roma forward Destro banned 3 matches for punch

Associated Press
Roma's Mattia Destro celebrates after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between Cagliari and Roma in Cagliari, Italy, Sunday, April 6, 2014. Roma moved within five points of Serie A leader Juventus as Mattia Destro scored his first-ever hat trick in a 3-1 win at Cagliari on Sunday. (AP Photo/Max Solinas)
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Roma's Mattia Destro celebrates after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between Cagliari and Roma in Cagliari, Italy, Sunday, April 6, 2014. Roma moved within five points of Serie A leader Juventus as Mattia Destro scored his first-ever hat trick in a 3-1 win at Cagliari on Sunday. (AP Photo/Max Solinas)

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.

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