El Tri had looked on course for a quarter-final berth after a wonderful strike from former Tottenham starlet, Giovani dos Santos put them in control on 48 minutes.
But super-sub Huntelaar nodded down for Wesley Sneijder with just two minutes left for the Galatasaray playmaker to drill a stunning low shot into the corner.
The Dutch looked to have forced extra-time but completed a sensational turnaround four minutes into injury-time when Arjen Robben controversially tumbled at the byline after Rafael Marquez was adjudged to have tripped him.
Huntelaar stepped up and sent the ever-impressive Guillermo Ochoa the wrong way from the penalty spot after the Mexican keeper had threatened to be his country's hero once again with a series of magnificent saves.
Robben was the subject of heated debate following the contest after admitting to diving in the first half in an attempt to win a spot kick.
Holland will now play Costa Rica or Greece in the last eight in Salvador on July 5.
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PRE-MATCH: RVP returns, ton up Dirk. Robin van Persie returns from suspension to partner Arjen Robben in attack for Holland while Dirk Kuyt joins an elite group of Dutchman to make a century of appearances for his country as part of what looks like a 5-3-2 formation. Augsburg's Paul Verhaegh also features. For Mexico, Carlos Salcido comes into the midfield for the suspended Jose Juan Vazquez. Giovani dos Santos and Oribe Peralta forge the attack in a 5-3-2 system.
17' - MEXICO CHANCE! A high ball into the area is chested down by Peralta who manages to work the ball across goal. It finally comes to Herrera who drags his shot from 10 yards agonisingly wide of the post.
20' - MEXICO PENALTY SHOUT! Herrera bursts past Vlaar in the area and then sees his attempt to nod it into his own path stopped by a dangerously high boot from the Aston Villa man. Mexico want a penalty, but they aren't going to get it from the referee. Certainly a strong claim.
32' - COOLING BREAK! The players all race to the touchline to have some much-needed fluid given how hot it is - almost 30 degrees in the tropical northern city of Fortaleza. It's the first official cooling break of the tournament.
42' - MEXICO CHANCE! Dos Santos is sent racing into the left side of the area but sees his low shot from a tight angle beaten away by Cillessen.
45+2' - HOLLAND PENALTY SHOUT! A mistake means the 'Oles' catch in the fans' throats and RVP looks to release Robben. The Bayern man gets in but Marquez appears to recover and sends him tumbling. Was that a penalty? Marquez doesn't win the ball and neither does Moreno who follows through.
48' - GOAL! HOLLAND 0-1 MEXICO. El Tri lead as dos Santos latches on to a weak headed clearance, chests it into his stride and lashes a low shot from 25 yards into the corner. Cue huge celebrations with his teammates in front of the Mexico fans.
58' - GREAT SAVE OCHOA! Guillermo Ochoa is at it again with another sensational save onto the post from point-blank range to keep out a close-range attempt from Stefan de Vrij!
75' - MORE OCHOA BRILLIANCE! Another great save from Ochoa as he beats away the low shot from Robben after a surging run from the forward.
88' - GOAL! HOLLAND 1-1 MEXICO. Holland are level! Sneijder breaks Mexican hearts when a 10th corner of the match is nodded down into his path by Huntelaar and he does the rest with low shot into the bottom corner. Saviour!
90+4' - GOAL! HOLLAND 2-1 MEXICO. Holland are going through to the last eight! Huntelaar had to wait a long time but kept his nerve to hammer his penalty low into Ochoa's right-hand corner, sending the keeper the wrong way. The kick was given after Marquez appeared to foul Robben by the right byline.
The Netherlands’ first shot on target in the game came in the 57th minute, Guillermo Ochoa dramatically saving a Stefan de Vrij effort from close range.
Wesley Sneijder has scored five goals in his last five knock-out stage games at World Cup finals.
The Netherlands have converted all nine World Cup penalties they have taken (exc. shoot-outs).
The Netherlands have now turned their last four World Cup games in which they fell behind in regular time (90 mins, not inc. ET) into a victories.
Seven different players have scored for the Netherlands at this World Cup, more than any other side in the tournament.
Four of last five World Cup knock-out stage goals conceded by the Netherlands have come from outside the box. (all except Iniesta’s goal in the final).
Mexico have lost four and drawn one of their last five encounters with the Netherlands, conceding at least two goals on each of these occasions.
Mexico have been knocked out of the World Cup finals at the second round stage in all six editions since 1994; no team has been knocked out at this stage as often as this.
Netherlands have won 10 of their last 11 World Cup matches, with the only blip in this run being their 2010 final defeat against Spain.
Mexico have scored a goal in each of their last 12 World Cup matches against European nations.
11 of the last 13 World Cup goals scored by Mexico have come after half time, while the Netherlands have scored 10 of their last 11 World Cup goals in the second half.
Ron Vlaar completed all 37 passes he attempted in this game, no Dutch player has made as many and completed them all in a World Cup game since 1966.
Four of the last five Dutch goals at this World Cup have been scored by substitutes.
TALKING POINT: Can the Dutch win it with such reliance on Robben and individual brilliance? Mexico will feel really hard done by as they restricted the Netherlands to scraps for long spells. A wonder goal from dos Santos and some goalkeeping heroics from Ochoa looked to have done the job, but a sumptuous strike from Sneijder and the run from Robben for the penalty turned the game on its head. The Dutch will need to play much, much better if they want to end their quest for a first title.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico): The stand-out goalkeeper of the tournament looked to have helped his team into the last eight with a series of sensational saves. He could do little with the two late Dutch goals but will leave Brazil with his reputation soaring through the roof.
Netherlands: Cillessen 6, De Vrij 6, Vlaar 5, Verhaegh 5, Blind 7, Kuyt 6, Wijnaldum 6, De Jong 5, Sneijder 7, Robben 8, van Persie 6. Subs: Martins Indi 6, Depay 7, Huntelaar 8.
Mexico: Ochoa 9, Rodriguez 6, Salcido 6, Marquez 6, Moreno 6, Aguilar 6, Herrera 7, Guardado 6, Layun 7, Peralta 6, Dos Santos 7. Subs: Reyes 6, Aquino 6, Hernandez 5.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Arjen Robben
- Wesley Sneijder
- Guillermo Ochoa
- Giovani dos Santos
- Rafael Marquez
- Hector Herrera
- Klaas-Jan Huntelaar