Auckland: A resurgent Spain humiliated Great Britain 8-1 to reach the top four playoffs at the Champions Trophy hockey tournament Tuesday, as Olympic champions Germany struggled to a 3-3 draw with South Korea.

Britain slumped to their heaviest defeat in the competition's history, wilting under pressure from an unrelenting Spanish inquisition in Auckland at the last major men's hockey tournament before the London Olympics.

Coach Jason Lee's side went a goal up through skipper Barry Middleton after 23 minutes but from there it was all one-way traffic as Spain tore apart the British defence.

"We were very, very poor... we physically and technically couldn't cope," Lee said, lamenting the way his team gifted Spain "two of the softest goals I've ever seen" to begin the rout.

Lee was upset not only at the lop-sided scoreline, but also the lack of fighting spirit his team displayed in its meek capitulation.

"The British have a great deal of pride and we've dented it quite severely today," he said.

Spain, desperate to make amends for a disappointing sixth place in this year's European Championships, responded to Middleton's opener with four goals in seven minutes to lead 4-1 at half-time.

Juan Fernandez scored a fifth after the break, then Spain ended the game with another flurry of goals, netting three in the final five minutes to pile on the agony for Britain.

Spanish captain Santi Freixa, who scored twice, said his team had brought an attacking philosophy to the tournament and were capable of beating any opponent on their day.

"Every day we're growing and improving, learning from what we didn't do right the day before," he said.

"I think today we showed we're not just here to play in the tournament and we're in the top four again in the Champions Trophy."

The result means Spain join Australia in the top four group that will compete for medals at the eight-nation tournament, while Britain will join the "best of the rest" to fight over the bottom four places.

Germany, the reigning Olympic and European champions, narrowly avoided a shock loss to South Korea, salvaging a 3-3 draw in the dying minutes of the game.

The Germans led 2-0 at half-time and appeared to be cruising into the top four play-offs before the never-say-die Koreans launched a spirited comeback.

Harrying their opponents in a mistake-ridden but exciting second half, Korea drew level after 54 minutes and took the lead 10 minutes later, sending their supporters in the stands into raptures.

Germany's Tobias Matania made it 3-3 with three minutes to go, meaning his team can still make the top four group, depending on the result of the other Pool B match between New Zealand and the Netherlands later Tuesday.

Australia will play Pakistan in the day's remaining match.