- Associated Press - Saturday, March 7, 2015

LONDON (AP) - Manchester United defender Jonny Evans and Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse were given long bans Saturday for spitting at each other during a Premier League match.

Evans denied deliberately spitting but was found guilty by an English Football Association disciplinary panel, which handed him a six-game suspension - the standard penalty for the offense.

Cisse had accepted the FA charge for the same offense. He was suspended for seven matches, as he has already received a ban for violent conduct - for elbowing Everton’s Seamus Coleman - this season.

The incident occurred following a confrontation between the players during the first half of Wednesday’s game at St. James’ Park, which United won 1-0. It was not seen by the match officials but caught on video.

Evans, who has only recently been recalled to United’s team, said in a statement released by the club on Thursday that he was “totally unaware of any spitting incident” and was “totally surprised by any suggestion of spitting.”

“It is not in my character or in my nature to spit at anybody,” Evans said, with that assertion backed up United manager Louis van Gaal later in the day.

Footage showed Evans spat toward Cisse first.

Cisse issued an apology, saying he had “reacted to something I found very unpleasant.”

United has cover at center back in Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones for the games that Evans will not be available for, starting with the FA Cup quarterfinal against Arsenal at Old Trafford on Monday.

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