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Football | France

Montpellier hit by Belhanda ban



Montpellier's chances of winning their first Ligue 1 title suffered a major blow on Thursday as playmaker Younes Belhanda was suspended for three matches meaning he will not play for the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old Moroccan - earlier voted African player of the season -recevied the ban for his red card in last week's 2-2 draw with Evian after an altercation with opposing defender Cedric Mongongu, which then escalated into an all out brawl.

He had already received a one game ban last week for picking up three bookings in 10 matches so the suspension imposed on Thursday will see him miss the home game against defending champions Lille on Sunday and the final Ligue 1 match against struggling Auxerre on May 20.

He will serve out his ban either in the first league game of next season or if they are crowned champions in the Champions Trophy match.

Belhanda's 12 goals and four assists this season has played a major role in his side's surprise rise to the top and which sees them lead Qatari-owned big spenders Paris Saint Germain by three points while Lille are six points adrift.

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