India finished on top of its pool despite losing 2-3 to Olympic champion Germany in the last preliminary league match of the Champions Trophy hockey tournament here on Tuesday.

India squandered the lead twice to hand over the match to the Germans, but still managed to top Pool ‘A’ on superior goal-difference.

Both India and Germany finished with six points each, but India’s two previous victories with two-goal margins ensured it the top spot. India finished with a goal-difference of plus three, while the Germans’ goal-difference was minus one.

The top-spot finish has set up India’s quarterfinal date against Belgium, which finished at the bottom of Pool ‘B’ with three successive losses, including Tuesday’s narrow 4-5 defeat at the hands of Olympic silver medallist the Netherlands.

Germany will take on Asian Games champion Pakistan, which was beaten 0-1 by defending champion and host Australia in the last preliminary league fixture.

Australia needed to post a two-goal win over Pakistan to finish on top in the group ahead of the Netherlands but just managed to score once through Kieren Govers.

Both the Netherlands and Australia finished with seven points from three games, but the Dutch side took the top position in Pool ‘B’ on the basis of a one-goal advantage.

The Dutch will now face Pool ‘A’s bottom place finisher New Zealand in the quarterfinals, while Australia meets England.

England finished third with four points after being held to a 1-1 draw by New Zealand for which this was the only point in three outings.

Against Germany, India drew first blood in the sixth minute when Gurwinder Singh Chandi picked up a through ball from Rupinder Pal Singh on top of the ‘D’ and sent a rasping shot into the net past German custodian Nicolas Jacobi.

Shaky defence

Germany equalised in the 14th minute through Oliver Korn, who capitalised on the shaky Indian defence on his second attempt.

India went ahead again in the 46th minute as Nitin Thimmiah deflected Birendra Lakra’s shot into the net following its first penalty corner.

India dominated the second half for long periods, but its strikers failed to breach the German defence.

India’s advantage was negated by two goals in successive minutes from Tobias Matania.

Wednesday is a rest day.

The results:

Pool ‘A’: England 1 (Gleghorne 11) drew with New Zealand 1 (Burrows 63).

Germany 3 (Korn 14, Matania 56, 58) bt India 2 (Chandi 6, Thimmaiah 46).

Pool ‘B’: Netherlands 5 (Hertzberger 25, Caspers 29, Jenniskens 35, Kemperman 41, Verga 69) bt Belgium 4 (Boon 36, 39, Hendrickx 42, Reckinger 70).

Australia 1 (Govers 51) bt Pakistan 0.

Thursday’s quarterfinal matches: Germany v Pakistan, the Netherlands v New Zealand, India v Belgium, Australia v England.

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