Lazar Markovic banned for four European games after red card in 1-1 draw with Basel and will miss both games against Besiktas

Markovic will miss both ties against Besiktas in the Europa League as well as the last-16 meetings if Liverpool see-off the Turkish side

Liverpool midfielder Lazar Markovic has been handed a four-match European suspension for his red card in the 1-1 draw with Basel in the Champions League in December.

Markovic was deemed to have lashed out with his arm and struck Behrang Safari in the face as he attempted to push off the defender, although the impact can be described as a glancing blow at best.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers had only brought the Serbia international on at half-time in place of striker Rickie Lambert, but the 20-year-old was given his marching orders in the 61st minute as the Reds battled back from a goal down to draw the group match.

 

However, the result, which came courtesy of a Steven Gerrard free-kick, was not enough to send Liverpool through to the Champions League last-16, and they dropped down to the Europa League in which they will face Besiktas in the last-32 first leg on Thursday.

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Referee Bjorn Kuipers splits the Liverpool and Basel players

Markovic was certain to be handed a one-match suspension for his dismissal, but a Uefa disciplinary committee has deemed the incident worthy of a much harsher sanction. Uefa's ruling also specifies that appeals can only be made in the case of mistaken identity, meaning that Rodgers will be without the services of one of his most improved players this season.

The initial red card, handed out by Uefa referee Bjorn Kuipers, could have been put down to Safari's theatrical reaction to Markovic catches him on the nose, and had Liverpool kept all 11 men on the field of play in the match they may still be in the Champions League, such was their surge for victory towards the end of the game.

Speaking after the match, Rodgers expressed his disappointment in the dismissal, as he did not believe that Markovic had done any wrong.

"I thought the sending off was a really disappointing decision by the referee," said the Northern Irishman.

"Lazar Markovic gets sent off for that - his fingernail barely touches the nose of the defender and the defender is the guy who should be looked at for his reaction."

Markovic was handed a three-match ban for the sending-off, plus an additional match due to his previous record after being red carded last season's Europe League semi-final while playing for Benfica.

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