FC Barcelona lost further ground on Real Madrid at the top of La Liga after a shock 2-­0 loss to Malaga on Saturday.

Neymar was sent off for FC Barcelona as they lost, and they failed in their bid to go level on points with La Liga leaders Real Madrid.

The current Spanish champions were given a boost by the result, after Real’s 1-1 draw with city rivals Athletico earlier.

However, a first-half strike from ex-FC Barcelona forward Sandro Ramirez and a late effort from Jony Rodriguez ended their hopes.

Forward Neymar, who had with 15 goals for Barca this season in all competitions, was sent off in the 65th minute after receiving a second yellow card.

The red card was Neymar’s first of his FC Barcelona career for two bookable offences as the Catalans were left to rue letting Sandro Ramirez join Malaga for free last summer.

The Brazil international had brought down Diego Llorente with a late challenge, and then sarcastically applauded as he made his way off the pitch.

Malaga, who began the match in 15th spot, looked far more threatening, especially on the counter-attack.

Sandro exposed some awful defending from Jeremy Mathieu to sprint clear on goal and slot past Marc­Andre ter Stegen at his near post in the 32nd minute to give Malaga the lead.

In the second half they had a goal disallowed when Adalberto Penaranda was wrongly flagged offside before they finally scored their second.

Pablo Fornals’ square ball found Rodriguez, who slotted in from 10 yards out.

Barca barely troubled Malaga keeper Carlos Kameni, although the Cameroon international did make two good saves to block two firm efforts from Luis Suarez.

The defeat means FC Barcelona remain on 69 points, three behind Real who have a game in hand.

Their next league game is against Real Sociedad on April 15, before what promises to be a season-defining El Clasico at the Bernabeu on April 23.

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