|Ibrahimovic will be a big loss for a side chasing down Serie A leaders Juventus [GALLO/GETTY]
AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was banned on Monday for three Serie A matches for hitting an opponent, ruling him out of a key clash with Italian league leaders Juventus.
In the 64th minute of Milan's 0-0 draw with Napoli on Sunday, Ibrahimovic was expelled for slapping his right hand on the side of defender Salvatore Aronica's face.
Ibrahimovic will miss a difficult game at third-place Udinese next weekend, a game at Cesena the following weekend and the match with Juventus on February 25.
Milan trail Juventus by just one point but the Turin club also have a game in hand.
Ibrahimovic has scored 15 goals in Serie A thus far, one behind league leader Antonio Di Natale of Udinese.
Ibrahimovic was banned twice for disciplinary incidents last season.
First, he was forced to sit out two games for punching a defender in the stomach. He was then banned for three matches for insulting a linesman.
Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri was also expelled on Sunday, for excessive protesting in the 89th minute. He was given a warning and a $4,000 fine.