In the English Championship playoffs, Eddie Lewis had by all accounts a strong performance in the first leg of Preston North End's promotion playoff vs. Derby County, just three weeks after an appendectomy.
"I feel great. The doctors did a fantastic job on the surgery" said Lewis, who underwent an emergency appendectomy April 24. "This is a critical time for the club in our efforts to get promoted to the Premiership, and I wanted to do everything I could to help the team realize its goals. These are the games that matter, and for sure I wanted to be able to contribute."
The left winger played 89 minutes in a 2-0 victory for his club at home, earning the praise of his manager. Lewis did not score, but his free kicks and crosses provided several chances, including a cross that was just off the mark after a 50-yard run.
"Eddie Lewis hasn`t trained very much. To come in there to play, and work the way he worked, was an absolute credit to him and I said that to him after the game," said Preston manager Billy Davies. "We know it`s only half-time and we`ve got to go to Derby with the intention of winning the game and scoring goals."
The second leg of the playoff will be played Thursday, May 19, at Derby's home stadium.
Brian McBride did his part with two goals as Fulham sealed Norwich’s relegation with a 6-0 victory at Craven Cottage on Saturday. McBride has now scored six goals in his last nine league matches after having a scoreless EPL campaign until an April 3 goal vs. Portsmouth.
The first goal came in the 10th minute as McBride finished a great through pass from Tomasz Radzinski through the legs of the goalkeeper from eight yards out. Before halftime, McBride almost got a second as his sliding, left-footed attempt from inside the six was tipped up and off the bottom of the crossbar by the Norwich goalkeeper.
In the 85th minute with Fulham up 4-0, Steed Malbranque freed McBride into the left side of the penalty area and the U.S. striker sent a calm, left-footed finish inside of the far side netting from a reasonably tight angle.
Carlos Bocanegra earned his first start since March 19 and his first minutes since April 3 and played 90 minutes at left back.
Norwich, Crystal Palace and Southampton were all relegated on the final day as bottom-of-the-table West Brom leapfrogged each of those clubs to stay afloat in the Premiership with a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth.
In the battle for a spot in Europe, Claudio Reyna played 88 minutes as Manchester City missed a berth in the UEFA Cup by the narrowest of margins. Three points behind Middlesbrough going into the day, a win would put Manchester City in seventh place and the final EPL slot in Europe next season.
With Middlesbrough putting a lineup on the field that indicated the side looking for the tie, Man City went down by one goal in the 23rd minute as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink drilled a 30-yard rocket off the underside of the crossbar. Man City got one back in the opening minute of the second half, but 'Boro dug in. City manager Stuart Pearce sent David James, the England goalkeeper penciled in to start vs. the U.S. on May 28, to play center forward for the final minutes, and inserted back-up goalkeeper Nicky Weaver in Reyna’s place.
It looked like the move paid off for City in injury time as the referee awarded a penalty kick for a hand ball, only to see Robbie Fowler's spot kick poorly taken and saved by Mark Schwarzer.
Tim Howard did not dress as Roy Carroll got another start for Manchester United in a 2-1 victory over now relegated Southampton … Cory Gibbs played 90 as Feyernoord fell 4-2 to PSV Eindhoven, who is still without DaMarcus Beasley due to a knee inury … Kasey Keller earned his seventh shutout with Borussia Monchengladbach against Hertha Berlin … Keller is averaging only one goal against now in 16 appearances in Germany … The 0-0 draw ensures ‘Gladbach’s position in the Bundesliga … Steve Cherundolo played 90 minutes as Hannover 96 topped Hamburg 2-1 … The victory by Hannover eliminated Hamburg from UEFA Cup contention … Conor Casey was on the bench as Mainz topped Kaiserslauten 3-2 … Gregg Berhalter and Energie Cottbus fell 3-0 to Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.