LONDON: Real Madrid spies at QPR would have been encouraged to see a muddle performance by imminent Champions League rivals Real Madrid ahead of their Anfield clash on Wednesday.

Though Liverpool won 3-2 against the west London strugglers they were not worthy of all three points.

Mario Balotelli missed the best chance in front of an open goal on the hour before a chaotic finish saw Liverpool edge home with one fine strike from Philippe Coutinho and two own goals from Richard Dunn and Steven Caulker. No one has scored more than Dunn’s 10 Premier League own goals.

Both QPR goals came from Eduardo Vargas.

England forward Raheem Sterling admitted: “We were not at our best but we hung in there and got three points we didn’t deserve. We were really lucky.”

All eyes will be on Sterling when Liverpool welcome Madrid. The Liverpool forward has been at the heart of a Club v Country row over the past week over his failure to start England’s Euro win in Estonia.

Sterling was omitted from the starting line-up after telling manager Roy Hodgson he felt “tired” but then came off the subs’ bench later in the game to help create the winning goal for Wayne Rooney.

Brendan Rodgers has jumped to the defence of the 19-year-old from the critical attack of the media and old England internationals. Now Sterling can repay his manager, not for the first time, for standing up for him.

Sterling started against struggling QPR as did Italy striker Mario Balotelli who is carrying extra responsibility because of the extended injury absence of Daniel Sturridge. Balotelli has complained that lone striker is not his ideal role but accepted that circumstances demand this role.

Liverpool vice-captain Jordan Henderson believes that Champions League experience will help him become a better player for both Liverpool and England.

He said: “I’m living the dream at the moment. It was always an ambition to play for England and playing in the Champions League can only help me develop my game. You want to be playing the best teams and Real are certainly one of them.

“It’s a big test for us but we’ll go into it with no fear because Champions League nights are fantastic at Anfield.”