India, Netherlands finish on top of respective pools



Melbourne: India finished top of Pool A despite going down 3-2 in their final pool game to Olympic champions Germany at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne.


World number 11 India will now face win-less Belgium, who finished fourth in Pool B, in a quarterfinal.

The Netherlands, ranked three in the world, topped Pool B after defeating Belgium 5-4 and will face New Zealand in their quarterfinal.

Elsewhere, England blew their chance to finish on top of Pool A after drawing 1-1 against New Zealand and will now face Australia in the quarterfinals after the Kookaburras beat Pakistan 1-0 in the evening game.

Germany complete the quarterfinal lineup with a match against Pakistan.
A win will put India into the semifinals and a chance for their first Champions Trophy medal since their bronze at Amstelveen in 1982. Striker S.K. Uthappa said his team still took confidence going forward despite the loss to the Germans.

"Team morale is very high because we knew that it wouldn't be an easy game to play against the Olympic gold medallists, so we were prepared for a good fight and that's what happened," he said.

"It was most important that we finished on top and that is what we did."  India made the best possible start with Gurwinder Chandi finding space in the circle to deliver a powerful shot for the opening goal.

Germany worked themselves back in the game minutes later, with Oliver Korn following up his first shot which hit the post to fire home the rebound and level the game.
The match continued at a frantic pace, with India producing several shots on goal which were all stopped by German goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi.

India continued on with their form after half-time, with a deflection from Nithin Thimmaiah from a penalty corner retrieving the lead.

India continued to play attacking hockey in search for another goal, however the disciplined German defence held firm.

This eventually paid dividends with a lapse in concentration from India allowing Germany back in the game with two goals to Tobias Matania within two minutes to seal the win.

The Netherlands secured top spot in Pool B by beating Belgium in a nine-goal thriller, but were pushed by the Belgians who fought back from a 3-0 half - time deficit.

Dutch captain Klaas Vermeulen said despite the close call they would take the positives heading into the quarterfinals.

"The tournament is starting now (with the quarterfinals). We have to forget the second half and remember the first and stay focused," he said.

Australia, chasing a fifth straight Champions Trophy, needed to win by two goals or more against Pakistan to take top spot in Pool B away from the Dutch, however they could only manage a 1-0 win.

Pakistan played well throughout the matched and looked capable of pulling off an upset, however a second-half penalty corner to Kieran Govers gave the home team the win.
Australian defender Mark Knowles said there was still room for improvement.

"We haven't played that well yet and know we can get better. We need to improve, we now play England, they are young and it's a quarterfinal at a Champions Trophy so it will be big for everyone," he said.

Tomorrow's quarterfinal lineups: Germany v Pakistan, New Zealand v The Netherlands, India v Belgium, England v Australia.

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