By manager Jurgen Klopp’s admission, Liverpool were content with a draw from a game in which they had trailed and lost a man, but in the final minute of added time Benteke ran into the area and drew a sliding challenge from Delaney.
The defender clearly pulled out of the tackle but his momentum saw his trailing knee slide into Benteke’s right foot, albeit lightly, as the striker looked to find shooting space.
Benteke went down, and the referee and his assistant consulted before the kick was awarded, the Belgian scoring his first goal of 2016.
“I believe he touched me, otherwise I don’t go down,” said the former Aston Villa striker.
‘Are you going to give a penalty?’
Pardew was clearly distraught at the conclusion, throwing his coat at his dugout in disgust as his side made it 12 Premier League games without a win.
They had appeared in control – ahead through Joe Ledley’s strike and with a man advantage – but Roberto Firmino’s equaliser from a goalkeeping error spurred Liverpool to a strong finish.
An emotional Pardew afterwards asked Sky Sports’ interviewer not to “antagonise” him in debating the penalty award.
“I’m frustrated because I looked at the referee – he was not going to give it and then he looked at the linesman who gave it,” said Pardew, whose side are 15th in the Premier League, nine points clear of the relegation places.
“You’ve got to be 100% sure. In super slow motion the knee touches the foot and he goes over like he’s been shot.
“The linesman assumes that little touch is a penalty. If you think that touch affects the fall and the way he lands, then you really need to be consulted.
“That touch doesn’t warrant that dive. If that touch warrants a collapse like that, then wow, we really need to say: ‘Come on’.”
‘It was a clear penalty’
The controversy meant Liverpool moved six points off the Champions League qualification places.
Klopp had only introduced Benteke on 80 minutes and called it “a perfect change”, adding the substitute “really worked hard”.
“I feel sorry for Palace but I have just seen the replay in the dressing room and it was a clear penalty,” said Klopp. “If there was no contact, Benteke would have been in a great position to shoot. He made the move and forced the situation.
“This is the third league win in a row. I can’t believe how it feels – really good, a big moment for us.”