MELBOURNE: India squandered the lead twice to lose 2-3 to Olympic champions Germany in the last preliminary league match of the Champions Trophy, but still managed to top Pool A on the basis of goal difference.
Both India and Germany finished with six points, but India's two previous victories with two-goal margins ensured them the top spot.
India finished with a goal difference of +3, while the German goal difference was -1.
England finished third with four points after being held to a 1-1 draw by New Zealand, for whom this was their only point in three outings.
India opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Gurwinder Singh Chandi picked up the ball from Rupinder Pal Singh on top of the circle and sent a stinging shot into the boards.
Germany equalised in the 14th minute through Oliver Korn, who capitalised on the shaky Indian defence on his second attempt after the first had rebounded off the right post.
India went ahead again in the 46th minute as Nitin Thimmiah deflected in Birendra Lakra's shot into the net following their first penalty corner. Lakra had picked up a rebound after V R Raghunath's penalty corner shot was blocked by the goalkeeper.
India's advantage was negated by two goals in successive minutes from Tobias Matania, who first capitalised on a long through-pass in the 56th minute and then converted Germany's second penalty corner with a firm shot.
India's efforts to bounce back came a cropper as Germany slowed down the game and packed their defence to keep the desperate rival attackers at bay.
Olympic silver medallist, The Netherlands edged past debutants Belgium 5-4 in Pool B.
The Dutch finished with seven points from three games, and now await the result of the Australia-Pakistan encounter to know who they play in the quarterfinals.