Extra-time appeared certain, but Netherlands secured their spot in the final eight when Huntelaar dispatched his penalty into the bottom corner in the 95th minute.
Here, Sports Mole dissects the last-16 clash between the two rivals.
On target: 8
On target: 7
Was the result fair?
In truth, it is difficult to discuss the 'fairness' of a football result when one team has conceded twice in the latter stages, especially in a game of this magnitude. Mexico looked to be easing into the quarter-finals with their one-goal lead intact after 88 minutes, but Netherlands showed their incredible grit and determination to continue pushing forward in the searing heat.
For long spells, Mexico were the better side, but they were guilty of retreating deeper and deeper in the latter stages, which allowed Netherlands to push high up the pitch and eventually gain their reward. When reviewing the 90 minutes as a whole, neither side really did enough in normal time to deserve the victory, with extra time the fairest outcome. However, Mexico's lack of concentration cost them, with Dutch coach Louis van Gaal's changes proving the difference.
Netherlands have played some brilliant attacking football this summer, but they showed a different side to their game today. Due to the temperature inside the stadium, it was a match that, for long spells, was played at a fairly slow pace. That does not really suit Van Gaal's style of play, but Holland showed their character to respond from a goal down.
Many teams would have settled for extra time after levelling late on, but Netherlands were only ever interested in pushing forward and their adventurous football paid dividends in stoppage time. Eyebrows were raised when Dirk Kuyt was selected in a wing-back position and indeed when Robin van Persie was replaced late on with the score still at 1-0, but Huntelaar - Van Persie's replacement - proved to be the match-winner once more. The heat inside the stadium should have suited Mexico, but it was Netherlands that looked the fitter team in the latter stages as Mexico continued to drop into a deeper shape.
Mexico have fallen at the last-16 stage once more, but it has been a brilliant World Cup for Miguel Herrera's side. For long spells of the first period, Mexico were the better team and frustrated the Dutch in forward positions.
Chances were at a premium in the opening 45 minutes, but it was Mexico that opened the scoring in the early stages of the second half courtesy of a long-range strike from Dos Santos. Instead of pushing for a second, however, Mexico retreated, which allowed Netherlands to switch from a 3-5-2 formation to more of a 4-3-3. Javier Hernandez was incredibly isolated in the latter stages and it was their lack of invention that ultimately cost them the match.
For 88 minutes, Mexico were again defensively brilliant, but they wilted in the latter stages after conceding the equaliser. Herrera's team should have shut up shop and played for extra time, but they simply did not have the energy to contain a sensational Arjen Robben.
Sports Mole's man of the match
Arjen Robben: Once deemed a frustrating player, Robben is now in the form of his life. The Bayern Munich attacker was the best player on the pitch this afternoon as he continued to terrorise the Mexican defence. The 30-year-old perhaps should have been awarded a penalty in the first period, but he got his reward late on, when Rafael Marquez brought the attacker to the ground inside the area, before Huntelaar stepped up to score from the spot. When Netherlands needed a hero in the latter stages, Robben once more answered the call. He has been just sensational this summer.
Robben did indeed win a penalty late on, but he should have already been awarded a spot kick in the first period. After advancing into the box, the attacker was fouled not once, but twice by Marquez and then Hector Moreno, but referee Pedro Proenca was not interested and waved play on. As it turned out, it did not play a part in stopping Netherlands advancing into the next round, but it was poor refereeing from the Portuguese.
As mentioned above, Robben should have been awarded a first-half penalty following contact from Moreno and Marquez inside the box, but Proenca waved play on. The official was correct to eventually award Robben a penalty late on, however, when Marquez once more felled the former Chelsea attacker inside the box. Overall, it was not a particularly difficult match to referee due to the slow nature of the contest and Proenca did allow the play to flow in the correct areas.
Netherlands: Van Gaal's side will face either Costa Rica or Greece in the quarter-finals this summer.
Mexico: Mexico must sort out the future of head coach Herrera, who is now out of contract.