Nottingham Forest took all three points after two goals in the first 20 minutes from striker Marlon King.
Forest started the game with a spring in their step and dominated throughout.
A few tame shots in the opening minutes failed to threaten, but the deadlock was soon broken when Andy Reid fed the ball to King deep on the left. King beat his defender and shot low and hard to give the Reds the lead seven minutes into the game.
A spectacular overhead kick from Crewe's Dean Ashton tested Paul Gerrard, but the on-loan keeper was alert to the danger.
Forest doubled their lead in the 19th minute, when on-loan Andy Impey crossed for King to head home his second goal of the afternoon.
With five minutes to go in the first half, Ashton nearly nicked a goal for the visitors and would have done but for the sharp reactions of Gerrard.
Early in the second half, Reid crossed to the head of Gareth Taylor who tested a diving Alex keeper Ben Williams, who parried onto the woodwork.
Just past the hour mark, Forest made their first change of the afternoon as goalscorer King was replaced by returning David Johnson.
Within seconds of Johnson's arrival, he was on the end of a long ball from Williams' goalkick. Johnson was at a tight angle but still managed to force the keeper into a save.
With five minutes to go the visitors were awarded a free-kick 28 yards out, from which Ashton forced Gerrard into an acrobatic save.
Forest though never looked like losing the game.