6:26pm Thursday 12th April 2012
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Chelsea's Champions League qualification hopes have suffered a blow after defender Branislav Ivanovic was found guilty of violent conduct and handed a three-match ban.
The right-back was charged by the Football Association (FA) on Tuesday after being caught on video striking Wigan's Shaun Maloney in the midriff during the Blues' 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Ivanovic contested the charge, but the FA's panel deemed he was guilty at a hearing and he will now miss the club's next three games - including Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham.
Referee Mike Jones missed the incident during the game, allowing the FA to take retrospective action against the Serbian, who has been in excellent form for the London club of late.
The 28-year-old has made the right-back position his own in recent months and has scored three goals in his past three Barclays Premier League games.
Ivanovic will miss Sunday's London derby at Wembley and the club's next two league games - Arsenal away on April 21, and their home game against QPR eight days later.
He will be available for Wednesday's Champions League semi-final clash against Barcelona as the ban covers domestic games only.
The FA Regulatory Commission who made the decision decided against extending the defender's ban to four games.
The Serb admitted there had been contact with Maloney, but denied that it had been "violent" in any way.
A Chelsea statement read: "Chelsea FC does not believe the incident was violent. We note that the FA did not deem our appeal frivolous and it therefore had merit."
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