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By ESPN Staff

Benfica's Binya banned for horror tackle

Benfica midfielder Augustin Binya has been banned for six UEFA matches following his red card for a high challenge on Scott Brown in the Champions League clash with Celtic.

Scotland international Brown avoided injury but claimed Binya had tried to break his leg with the tackle in the 85th minute of the November 6 match at Parkhead, which Celtic won 1-0.

UEFA's control and disciplinary body announced their verdict on Friday morning, having deliberated on the case on Thursday.

In a statement, European football's governing body's website, Binya's challenge was described as one which 'seriously endangered the physical health of the opposing player'.

Benfica can appeal against the decision, however if they are unsuccessful Binya will miss Benfica's remaining Champions League Group D matches against AC Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Benfica will then have to cope without Binya for their next four matches in Europe, which could be in the latter stages of this season's Champions League or UEFA Cup.

The ban will also carry over to future seasons if, as seems likely, Benfica finish bottom of Group D and bow out of Europe for this campaign.

The lunge which resulted in Binya being sent off was condemned this week by Scotland manager Alex McLeish as 'an absolutely shocking tackle'.

McLeish did not watch the match, as he was in Barcelona ahead of Rangers' Champions League game.

However he had been concerned about Brown's fitness when he received a text message from his son detailing the crunching challenge.

After seeing replays of the incident, McLeish was hugely relieved when Brown confirmed he would be available to face Italy tomorrow in Scotland's crucial final Euro 2008 qualifier.

The referee who dismissed Binya, Sweden's Martin Hansson, also described the tackle as one of the worst he had seen.

Brown said straight after the match: 'He obviously tried to do me as hard as possible.'

Cameroonian Binya, 24, apologised for the challenge on the day after the match.

Benfica seem certain to appeal, and they have three working days in which to respond to the UEFA announcement.

The Portuguese club believe UEFA have tried to make an example of Binya, and communications chief Ricardo Maia told club website www.slbenfica.pt: 'This penalty is tough and disproportionate, taking into account the behaviour of the player during and after the game.

'Binya did not argue with the referee, he was worried about the physical condition of his professional colleague, and later apologised publicly.'