Real Madrid Forward Cristiano Ronaldo's Top-6 Portugal Moments

Paul Wilkes@@paulwilkesfootyFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2014

Real Madrid Forward Cristiano Ronaldo's Top-6 Portugal Moments

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    Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final was one of many pinnacle moments within a glittering club career.

    It wasn't one of his better games and even though the match was already won, his celebration following the penalty will be shown for years to come.

    As with many of today's elite performers, his form for his national side hasn't always coincided with those who pay his wages.

    Perhaps, too much is expected of players to be able to recreate their brilliance in a different system that often lacks familiarity.

    The Portuguese forward has still produced some incredible displays.

    Here is his top-six Seleccao moments:

6. Debut Against Kazakhstan

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    PAULO DUARTE/Associated Press

    At the tender age of 18, Cristiano Ronaldo made his international debut as a substitute against Kazakhstan.

    It wasn't a particularly entertaining game as Portugal won by a 1-0 margin.

    Kazakhstan defender Igor Soloshenko tried to clear the ball from the penalty area, but it bounced off Simao Sabrosa's chest past goalkeeper Yuri Novikov.

    Ronaldo had recently joined Manchester United and it was a sign of his initial promise.

5. His 1st Goal for Portugal

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    It was a bittersweet moment for Ronaldo as he scored his first goal for the national side.

    The header against Greece was the team's opening goal of the 2004 European Championships in their own country.

    Unfortunately they were already behind 2-0 and Ronaldo had brought down Giourkas Seitaridis to concede a penalty.

    "We started too nervous, we got more shots on goal in the second half but we couldn't turn it round," admitted coach Luis Felipe Scolari, via USA Today.

    It was the biggest opening-day shock in the tournament's history, although the Greeks went on to win the competition overall.

4. Captain at 22

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    It was a dramatic few days for Portugal and especially Ronaldo in February 2007.

    On Sunday, vice-president of the Portuguese FA Carlos Silva passed away; Monday was CR7's 22nd birthday and then Tuesday he was made captain for Seleccao.

    The game against Brazil took place at the neutral venue of Arsenal's Emirates stadium.

    Scolari's side beat his homeland 2-0 and he also explained in the press conference  after the match why he had chosen to give Ronaldo such an honour:

    "On Saturday, Mr Silva asked me to make him captain as a gesture. He thought the English fans would give him a difficult time and this was a response. He is too young to be captain, but Mr Silva asked me, and now he is no longer with us."

3. Brace Against Holland to Answer Critics at Euro 2012

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    The first two matches of Euro 2012 saw Ronaldo come under extreme pressure.

    There was a defeat to Germany and then the victory over Denmark was marred by chants of Lionel Messi at the Real Madrid forward.

    In the third and final group-stage match, Ronaldo came to life.

    His two goals eliminated Holland from the tournament, whilst he also hit the post twice and created many other scoring opportunities for his teammates.

2. Hat-Trick Against Sweden Takes Portugal to World Cup 2014

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    It was billed as a straight shootout between Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. There was only one winner.

    Over the course of the two-legged play-off for a place in Brazil, Ronaldo scored four goals.

    His hat-trick against Sweden in the second leg was without doubt his best individual performance in the red shirt.

    "You never know who's going to win and that's why football is brilliant," reflected Ronaldo at the final whistle, via The Daily Mail. "Simply, I did my work."

1. Ronaldo Becomes All-Time Top Scorer

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    Armando Franca/Associated Press

    It may only have been a friendly against Cameroon, but Ronaldo became his country's all-time top scorer.

    His double versus the African nation took him to 49 international goals and ahead of Paulista.

    "I do not look to beat records," said the striker after the match to broadcaster RTP, via ESPN. "This happens naturally, with a lot of effort, dedication, with the excellent national team we have, a good coach. I knew that sooner or later it was going to happen."

    He will almost certainly reach the half-century milestone in Brazil and he will be hoping that this is his standout tournament.