Barcelona stunned as Real Madrid grab top spot

And if he is banned for more than one league game he will be unavailable for the April 23 Clasico at the Bernabeu, a decisive day in the Liga title race with Madrid now three points clear.

The Barcelona talisman will now miss Barcelona's clashes vs Real Sociedad (H), Real Madrid (A) and Osasuna (H).

The Brazilian would typically have received a one-match ban for the dismissal but due to his alleged sarcastic applause for the fourth official when he left the pitch he has been punished with an additional two-game suspension.

Neymar was sent off as Barcelona lost ground on Real Madrid in the La Liga title race with a defeat at Malaga.

Barcelona will have to make do without Neymar after it was confirmed the Brazilian will serve a three-match ban for his red card against Malaga.

LaLiga leaders Real Madrid had earlier on Saturday been held to a 1-1 draw by city rivals Atletico, meaning Luis Enrique's side could have moved top of the table with victory.

First of all, Neymar's initial yellow card - picked up in the 26th minute - wasutterly ludicrous.

Needless to say, at this critical point of the La Liga season, Barcelona could have done without his absence.

The postgame report said: "The player Neymar Da Silva Santos J, after being sent off, when he was entering the tunnel, and [sarcastically] applauded the fourth official". But [as players] we don't point fingers at each other.

"It's curious that a team like us that doesn't usually kick people gets so many yellow cards in such an incomprehensible manner", Enrique said. "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".

The Spanish league has extended his automatic one-match ban for his red card by two further matches, because of his reaction to the second booking, which was noted by referee Jesus Gil Manzano.

Real Madrid have a three-point lead in the La Liga title chase in addition to their match in hand.

  • Julie Sanders