Neymar's petulance may cost Barca dear

Barcelona forward Neymar trudging away, having been sent off in the 65th minute of their shock 0-2 loss to Malaga. Worse could follow for Barca, with the league looking into his behaviour following the red card, which could see him miss the 'Clasico'
Barcelona forward Neymar trudging away, having been sent off in the 65th minute of their shock 0-2 loss to Malaga. Worse could follow for Barca, with the league looking into his behaviour following the red card, which could see him miss the 'Clasico' should there be a further ban.PHOTO: REUTERS

Real also miss the chance to take a five-point lead, with the Madrid derby ending all square

MADRID • Barcelona's La Liga titles hopes could take a further blow following Neymar's sending off in their 2-0 defeat at Malaga on Saturday, with the Brazilian star a possible 'El Clasico' absentee.

The shock loss leaves Barcelona three points behind leaders Real Madrid - who have played one game fewer - and raises the stakes for Luis Enrique's men in the April 23 showdown against Los Blancos.

But Neymar could miss the clash at the Bernabeu for his sarcastic applause after being sent off 25 minutes from time.

He had been shown his first booking for delaying a Malaga free-kick while tying his shoelaces, and got his second yellow after charging into Diego Llorente.

Neymar's one-game suspension for the first sending off of his Barcelona career rules him out of his side's match against Real Sociedad this week.

But under Spanish league rules, the 25-year-old would receive a longer ban if his reaction to the sending off is deemed as contempt towards the match officials.

According to ESPN, referee Jesus Gil Manzano has included Neymar's petty reaction to the fourth official in his post-game report.

In February, Luis Suarez was banned two games after the same referee wrote in his King's Cup game report that the Barcelona striker delayed his exit after being sent off.

In 2012, Valencia's Sofiane Feghouli missed three games for sarcastically applauding after receiving a second yellow.

Enrique was angry with several of Manzano's decisions, including the award of a free-kick rather than a penalty after Malaga's Charles fouled Sergi Roberto in the box, and claimed his star names lack protection from officials.

"I think the interpretation of the yellow cards is special," said the Barcelona manager.

"We have to have be very careful in some games because there were some ugly challenges from behind that went unpunished and tying boots was."

With the visitors down to 10 men, Jony sealed Malaga's win in the 90th-minute after ex-Barcelona striker Sandro Ramirez opened the scoring in the 32nd minute.

Victory at La Rosaleda would have sent Barcelona level with Real on 72 points after the Madrid derby ended in a draw earlier on Saturday.

Pepe opened the scoring for Real with a looping header in the 52nd minute.

And it looked like the hosts would earn victory, until Antoine Griezmann intervened late on, reaching Angel Correa's through ball and slotting home an 85th-minute equaliser for Atletico Madrid.

"It is a draw but we've lost two points. Clearly we deserved all three points today," said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

"It was a great performance (from Real), but we just lost concentration for five minutes."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2017, with the headline 'Neymar's petulance may cost Barca dear'. Print Edition | Subscribe