Jonathan Mensah's 74th-minute header sealed Columbus' victory after Lucas Zelarayan's tantalizing free kick resulted in an own goal that put the Crew in front on four minutes, dispatching their Liga MX foe.
Columbus becomes the second consecutive MLS team to win the four-year-old trophy after Atlanta United defeated Club America 3-2 in 2019. A version between the defending MLS Cup champion and Mexico's defending Campeon de Campeones winner was not contested in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cruz Azul hoarded the ball and held 74% of possession, but struggled to create consistent chances. Their best stretch came in the opening minutes of the second half, when Jonathan Rodriguez fired well over the crossbar on a wide-open look in 47th minute and Juan Escobar struck the right post five minutes later.
In the dying moments, the partisan Columbus crowd reminded the Mexico City-based side of other American victories over Mexican opponents in the Ohio capital, with a "dos-a-cero!" chant ringing out from the Nordecke behind the north goal.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Not only is this Columbus' first continental honor in 26 seasons, but it could also be a crucial jolt of energy and confidence for a Crew side that will return to league play on the weekend fighting for their postseason lives. Columbus will end Wednesday five points adrift of the seventh and final Eastern Conference berth in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Mensah's goal, set up by a gorgeous ball on the break from left back Milton Valenzuela, came against the run of play. At the same time, it was well-deserved given the comfort level Columbus had in dealing with Cruz Azul's attempts to pile on pressure as the second half progressed.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Darlington Nagbe. The midfielder was at his absolute best as a pressure release valve, completing over 95% of his passes and winning the overwhelming majority of his 10 contested duels.
- CLB: Sunday, October 3 at Philadelphia Union | 4 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)