Posted on Mar 23
Real Madrid duo Pepe and Mesut Ozil, pictured here in February 2012, were on Friday hit with two and one match bans respectively for arguing with a referee, raising pressure on the league leaders as Barcelona snap at their heels.

Real Madrid duo Pepe and Mesut Ozil were on Friday hit with two and one match bans respectively for arguing with a referee, raising pressure on the league leaders as Barcelona snap at their heels.

The Spanish Football Federation also handed a one-match ban to Real's Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho over the bad-tempered 1-1 draw against Villarreal on Wednesday.

Two Real Madrid players got red cards in the closing moments of the match: defender Sergio Ramos for a second yellow card, and Ozil for protesting that decision.

Among angry exchanges involving Real Madrid members, referee Paradas Romero also sent Mourinho to the stands along with his assistant Rui Faria. Pepe insulted Romero, according to Spanish media.

Mourinho received a "one-match ban for a double booking and consequent expulsion" from the touchline, while Faria received a two-match ban, the federation said in a statement.

Ramos escaped a ban in Friday's ruling by the federation's Competition Committee, which listed the sanctions in a regular bulletin released after a meeting on Friday.

The draw allowed Real's fierce rivals Barcelona to close the Madrid team's lead to six points at the top of the Spanish league.

The bans mean Mourinho and German midfielder Ozil will sit out Saturday's league match against Real Socieded in the stands, while Portuguese-Brazilian defender Pepe will miss that game plus the tie away to Osasuna on April 1.

With another 1-1 draw on Saturday at home to Malaga, Real dropped four points in the past week.

Defending champions Barcelona are unbeaten in four games and go to in-form Mallorca on Saturday.

Real Madrid's management hit out at referee Romero, with its football director Miguel Pardeza accusing him of double standards, in comments published on the club's website on Friday.

"We at the club find it striking and are worried about the referee's different standards," Pardeza said.

"The referee's performance was incredibly rigorous with us, sending off Rui Faria simply for applauding in support of Cristiano Ronaldo. The same goes for Ozil, a kid who is always a clean player," he added.

"We're not addressing the match result, but the referee's attitude towards us, which had him constantly focusing on what was going on in our team's coaching area."