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Cristiano Ronaldo's greatness couldn't overcome Portugal's problems against Hungary

He did everything for his team, but it wasn't good enough. Now Portugal have a nearly impossible road to a Euro 2016 title. No one is less at fault for this than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo and his rival Lionel Messi are often held to an impossible standard that hinges on their success in international tournaments. To a large subset of fans, they cannot be considered as great as Pele and Diego Maradona until they guide their national teams to glory. Wednesday's 3-3 draw between Portugal and Hungary showed why this argument is a fallacy.

From start to finish, Ronaldo was the best player on the pitch. As Portugal's midfield and defense struggled to contain a Hungary team with nowhere near as much talent, Ronaldo fought to keep them in the match. On three occasions, the Hungarians scored to take the lead. And on three occasions, it was Ronaldo responsible for bringing his team level.

He showed off his brilliance by doing this three different ways. First, with a perfect through ball to Nani. Second, with a mind-blowing running backheel finish. Third, with a towering header. This game featured the best of Ronaldo, in every way.

Every time Portugal went behind, Ronaldo was up to the task of picking his team up and putting them on his back. But by the third time Hungary took the lead, Portugal's leader couldn't hide his frustration at his teammates' utter incompetence.

Some will say that this was a selfish and childish display; a perfect illustration of why Ronaldo is vilified by so many despite being one of the two greatest players of his generation. This is an understandable reaction to his tantrum given that he threw a reporter's microphone in a lake less than 24 hours prior. But one man can only be asked to do so much, and can only take so much criticism that he doesn't deserve.

And at the end of the game, he was defeated -- as Hungary played keepaway, Ronaldo told them to pass back to their keeper and didn't press. He couldn't compete for the win. Fighting his way to a 3-3 draw almost by himself took too much out of him.

How can Ronaldo be criticized for showing anger at, then resignation to his team's failings when he and he alone will take the heat for failing to win? It's not Nani or Pepe or Joao Moutinho's legacy on the line in this tournament. They'll be remembered as good, but not great players whether Portugal wins the European Championship or gets dumped out in the next round. The goals that Portugal concedes reflect most poorly on Ronaldo, whether he had anything to do with conceding them or not. Unfairly, this will be remembered as his tournament and no one else's.

Ronaldo was Portugal's best player in their first two games, but couldn't find the back of the net. He was blamed for their struggles. He answered his critics by dominating against Hungary, but because Portugal failed to win Group F, and now faces a difficult knockout bracket, those prior misses won't be forgotten. Portugal just weren't good enough, against an opponent they should beat comfortably, despite Ronaldo being at the top of his game.

No matter what he does, Cristiano Ronaldo can't win. Wednesday's game heaped more evidence that he has not failed Portugal onto an overflowing plate of it. His legacy cannot and should not be defined by a lack of international accolades. Even when he's nearly perfect, it's not good enough. Can we really say he should have done more?