Giampaolo Pazzini’s brace was ultimately enough to give Milan three points, though a Philippe Mexes own goal gave Bologna late hope.
The Rossoneri were under pressure to pick up all three points, though Mario Yepes, Massimo Ambrosini and Nigel De Jong were sidelined with fitness concerns for Robinho and Daniele Bonera too. Giampaolo Pazzini returned from suspension to lead the trident with Mbaye Niang and Stephan El Shaarawy. Bologna also played at San Siro on Tuesday night, taking Inter to the last seconds of extra time before capitulating 3-2 in the Coppa Italia quarter-final. Cesare Natali, Robert Acquafresca and Henry Gimenez missed out on this trip.
This has been a tight fixture recently, as in the last six editions there was never more than a one-goal gap between them.
El Shaarawy went on a solo run down the left to test Federico Agliardi’s reflexes at the near post and a long-range Kevin-Prince Boateng strike was charged down.
Niang flashed a shot across the face of goal with nobody ready to take advantage. Christian Abbiati got down to palm a Riverola daisy-cutter round the post on the half-hour.
Agliardi flew to palm a dangerous Pazzini glancing header off the line, while Kevin Constant’s first touch was heavy on a Niang assist.
After the break Philippe Mexes hit a scissor-kick against the body of Daniele Portanova from a corner, then Pazzini at full stretch failed to get on the end of another good Niang cross from the right.
Pazzini missed again from five yards after Ignazio Abate sprinted to the by-line and pulled back, but the striker felt the pressure of Portanova and Agliardi to completely mis-kick.
A corner came to El Shaarawy and his fierce shot stung Agliardi’s palms, as it was rapidly turning into a siege.
The pressure paid off when Pazzini turned Antonsson and saw his shot take a huge deflection off the prone Bologna man’s foot to loop over a helpless goalkeeper.
Pazzini netted his second with a lovely bit of skill, flicking the ball up in the air to turn round and volley under the bar.
Milan seemed to be home and dry, but left the door open when Cristian Pasquato’s header down from a set piece was accidentally prodded over the line by a clumsy Mexes intervention.
That gave Bologna hope and the final minutes were tense at San Siro as the Rossoblu poured forward.