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India go down to Great Britain
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March 07, 2008 00:15 IST
Last Updated: March 07, 2008 11:30 IST

India went down to Great Britain 2-3 and suffered their first defeat in the men's Olympic hockey qualifier in Santiago, Chile, on Thursday night.

A goal in the dying minutes of the match put paid to India's hopes of scoring their fourth straight victory in the  tournament.

Great Britain, with 12 points from four matches, are assured of a place in Sunday's final between the top two teams in the six-team league. India, with nine points, are placed second on the table.

Only the winner of tournament qualifies for the 2008 Beijing [Images] Olympics [Images], from August 8 to 24.

In the day's other matches, played later, Austria beat Mexico 3-1 while Russia [Images] scored a 2-1 win over Chile to pick their first points in the tournament.

As often India have themselves to blame for their prodigality in the striking circle. They were the better side but failed to make the best of the chances that came their way.

India were off to a fantastic start when V R Raghunathan scored form the first penalty-corner of the match. It was his seventh goal of the tournament, five of which were from penalty-corners.

But Great Britain, one above India at eighth in the FIH rankings, leveled with a penalty-corner in the 15th minute when Richard Mantell flicked hard and true from the team's first penalty-corner.

They then went ahead in the 46th minute after a quick passing bout down the right. Mantell, on entering the circle, swept the ball which Indian goalkeeper Baljit Singh did well to stop. Richard Alexander, following through, capitalized on the rebound and squared to Jonty Clarke, who scored easily.

India pressed hard for the equalizer and were rewarded for their efforts in the 67th minute when Raghunath scored from a penalty-corner after Dilip Tirkey put him in possession.

And just when the teams looked like settling for a point each from the match, Rob Moore clinched the issue for the Britons when he finished off on a free-hit in the dying seconds of the match.

Great Britain is now atop of the points table with the maximum points (12), followed by India and Austria, 9 each. Chile and Russia have three and Mexico still without a point.

The qualifier continues on Saturday with the conclusion of pool play, when Great Britain meets Austria, Russia take on  Mexico, and hosts Chile conclude the day's programme against  India.

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