India lose to Britain in Olympic hockey qualifier

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{image-britain in hockey_07032008.jpg www.oneindia.com}New Delhi, March 7: 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 one minute from the end gave Britain a 3-2 victory over India at a mens hockey qualifying tournament for the Beijing Olympics. he win put Britain at the top of the league table with a game left, all but confirming them a berth in Sundays final of the six-team event in Santiago, Chile which will decide the sole qualifier for the Beijing Games. Despite the defeat, India are still expected to face Britain in the final. Eight-times champions India have never missed an Olympic hockey tournament.

Indian penalty corner specialist V.R. Raghunath scored in the second and 65th minutes after Britain had rallied through goals from Richard Mantell and Jonty Clarke, going 2-1 up in the 46th minute. The teams were 1-1 at halftime.

Rob Moore struck the winner with a minute left, giving the 1988 Olympic champions 12 points from four successive wins. It was Indias first loss after three victories and they are second in the table with nine points and a healthy goal difference.

Britain face third-placed Austria on the last day of league fixtures on Saturday with India meeting hosts Chile. Austria (six points) face Mexico later on Thursday.

It is the second of three qualifying events for the 12-team Olympic hockey competition. New Zealand beat Argentina in the final of the first tournament last month. The third is in Japan next month.

China, Netherlands, South Korea, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Belarus, Pakistan and Australia have also qualified.

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