Brazilian star Neymar was sent off for Luis Enrique side Barcelona as they lost at Malaga and failed in their bid to go level on points with La Liga leaders Real Madrid.
Barcelona were given a boost after Real Madrid 1-1 draw against city rivals Atletico Madrid.
Despite, a first-half strike from former-Barcelona striker Sandro Ramirez and a late effort from Jony Rodriguez ended their hopes.
Striker Neymar was sent off in the 65th minute after receiving a second yellow.
The 25-year-old with 15 goals for Barcelona this season in all competitions - had brought down Diego Llorente with a late threat, and then maliciously applauded as he made his way off the pitch.
The former Santos striker is set to be suspended for the next league match against Real Sociedad on 15 April. But Neymar could receive a longer ban if his reaction to the red card is assumed as contempt of the officials, which would mean the Barca star would miss the potentially season-defining El Clasico at the Bernabeu on 23 April.