Barca’s title hopes dashed by Malaga

BARCELONA, April 9: The Brazilian could now miss the Clasico clash with Real Madrid after his sending off reaction in the shock 2-0 loss to Malaga.

Barcelona's Liga title hopes were left in tatters after a shock 2-0 loss to Malaga that was marred by a number of terrible calls by the match officials. The Blaugrana's primary gripe came with the referee's decision to dismiss Neymar for a late challenge on Diego Llorente in the 65th minute. The Brazilian had already booked for obstructing the taking of a free kick by tying his laces in front of the ball. He appeared to be shown a straight red card by Gil Manzano, but it turned out after the match it was a second yellow. However, Neymar's ironic clapping reaction means he could face further sanctions and miss the crucial Clasico clash with Liga leaders Real Madrid on April 23. The challenge was undeniably late and warranted a second caution but it was not serious enough to deserve instantaneous dismissal, especially when one considers Ross Barkley's horror tackle on Dejan Lovren in last weekend's Merseyside derby only resulted in the Everton midfielder earning a yellow. Barcelona were also denied a clear penalty with 12 minutes to go when Sergio Roberto was felled inside the area only for the referee to instead award a free kick on the edge of the box. The hosts, though, had also been robbed of a spot kick when the same thing happened at the other end of the field some 10 minutes before, with Javier Mascherano the man let off the hook. In addition, Adalberto Penaranda had a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out for offside in the 72nd minute, with the linesman incorrectly raising his flag after the Colombian had latched onto a perfectly-timed through-ball to score. It is also worth pointing out that Neymar's dismissal was Barca's first red card in 59 games - not that that will stop Gerard Pique from no doubt taking to Twitter to express his disapproval with the officials and their perceived bias towards title rivals Real! The Catalans' defeat means that the Blancos' 1-1 draw with city rivals Atletico - which left Barca in a position to go top of the table on goal difference - has now extended the capital club's lead at the top of the Liga standings to three points, with a game in hand. Thus, the winners at the Rosaleda were not only Malaga but also Real - and those championing the introduction of Video Assistant Referees!

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