Madrid: Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti accused Athletic Bilbao's Carlos Gurpegi of exaggerated theatrics in the action that led to Cristiano Ronaldo's sending off in a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
The recently crowned Ballon d'Or winner was given his marching orders 15 minutes from time, with the score already at 1-1, for appearing to hit out at Gurpegi after having a penalty appeal turned down.
The away draw leaves Real three points behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, who moved to the top of the table with a 4-0 win over Real Sociedad earlier on Sunday.
Ronaldo is now likely to be banned for another crucial league encounter against Villarreal next weekend and Ancelotti wasn't convinced his star man deserved to see red.
"I think it is difficult for me to judge because I wasn't there, but the images show that it was an exaggerated reaction," said the Italian.
Brazilian defender Marcelo was stronger in his criticism of the decision. "It is hard when you lose a player in an unjust manner.
It is obvious that the decision wasn't fair and that made it very difficult, although our intention is to win every game," he told Spanish TV station Canal Plus.
"Athletic are a very good team, but we had bad luck today." After withstanding some intense pressure from Athletic in the opening 45 minutes, Madrid looked set for an 11th consecutive victory in all competitions as Ronaldo's cross was turned home by Jese Rodriguez.
However, a stunning strike from Ibai Gomez brought the hosts level before Ronaldo clashed with Gurpegi.
Madrid then had Diego Lopez to thank for salvaging a point as the keeper tipped over another dipping effort from Gomez before denying Aritz Aduriz late on. "The game was difficult for both teams," added Ancelotti.