AC Milan moved to within three points of fourth placed Atalanta with an unconvincing victory over Bologna in an ill-tempered affair which contained three red cards on Monday night.
During an entertaining first half, Milan centre-halves Cristian Zapata and Mateo Musacchio put free headers wide shortly before Gianluigi Donnarumma superbly stopped Riccardo Orsolini's one-on-one effort to keep the scores level.
The hosts took the lead in the 37th minute when former Liverpool winger Suso cut inside on his left foot to powerfully beat Łukasz Skorupski at his near post, much to the relief of an increasingly restless San Siro crowd.
Gennaro Gattuso's side doubled their advantage in the 67th minute when Skorupski could only parry Lucas Paqueta's deflected strike straight to Fabio Borini, who converted from close range.
Ex-Milan forward Mattia Destro pulled one back for the visitors shortly after, before Paqueta was sent off for two quick-fire bookings, following a strong tackle which preceded clear dissent towards the referee.
Despite heavy late pressure from Bologna, they couldn't find an equaliser and had Nicole Sansone and Mitchell Dijks sent off late on.
Key Talking Point
This was a game that the Rossoneri absolutely had to win to keep in touch with Serie A's top four, but against a side who have claimed ten points in their previous four games, they knew this wouldn't be an easy task.
Gattuso had enforced the dreaded 'ritiro', in which the Milan players were forced to spend several days at the club's training ground following an extremely disappointing season filled with ill-discipline and poor performances.
Despite creating a couple of good openings early on, their defence looked frail, and they nearly went behind on several occasions against a side who have been battling relegation all season.
Suso's first goal in 13 games help settle the nerves, but has been the story for most of the season, the 18-time Italian champions made life much more difficult for themselves than it needed to be.
Paqueta's completely unnecessary red card left the hosts hanging on, something which Gattuso will be seething about, but they just about hung on to claim a vital three points.
Starting XI: Donnarumma (5); Abate (7), Zapata (5), Musacchio (6), Rodriguez (6); Kessie (7), Biglia (6), Paqueta (4); Suso (6), Piatek (5), Calhanoglu (7).
Substitutes: Mauri (6), Borini (7), Castielljo (6).
STAR MAN - Ignazio Abate put in a captains performance at right back to help steer his side to a crucial victory.
While others around him, particularly Donnarumma, were looking nervous and tetchy, the 32-year-old stepped up, putting in solid defensive display as well as being a constant option out wide on the counter-attack for the Rossoneri.
His contract may be up in the summer, but the Italian international's tireless work rate and ever-dependable ability at full-back was a big factor in hosts seeing Bologna off.
Milan continue their push for a Champions League spot when they travel to Fiorentina on Saturday evening, before hosting already relegated Frosinone.
Gattuso's men finish their campaign away at midtable SPAL on Sunday 26 May.
Bologna are still not safe, but they will be hoping to secure their Serie A status foe another season when they host Parma next Monday, followed by clashes against top four chasing Lazio and Napoli.