Napoli striker Higuain banned four matches for protests

Gonzalo Higuain was initially suspended for four games. (Lancia/ANSA via AP)

MILAN — Napoli’s title hopes have taken another hit with the suspension of Serie A’s top scorer Gonzalo Higuain for four matches for severe protests with the referee.

Higuain, who has scored 30 goals in 31 matches, lost control and placed his hands on the referee’s chest when he was sent off following two bookings in a 3-1 loss at Udinese on Sunday.

The defeat left Napoli six points behind league leader Juventus and only four ahead of third-place Roma with seven matches remaining.

Higuain, who had to be removed from the pitch by fellow players, will miss matches against Hellas Verona, Inter Milan, Bologna and — perhaps most importantly — Roma.

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri was also suspended for one game after he too was sent off for protests.

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