2012–16: All-time Portugal top scorer and European champion
Ronaldo evading Luka Modrić during a friendly match against Croatia in 2013
During the qualification for the 2014 World Cup, Ronaldo scored a total of eight goals. A qualifying match on 17 October 2012, a 1–1 draw against Northern Ireland, earned him his 100th cap. His first international hat-trick also came against Northern Ireland, when he found the net three times in a 15-minute spell of a 4–2 qualifying victory on 6 September 2013. After Portugal failed to qualify during the regular campaign, Ronaldo scored all four of the team's goals in the play-offs against Sweden – billed as a battle between Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimović – which ensured their place at the tournament. His hat-trick in the second leg took his international tally to 47 goals, equaling Pauleta's record. Ronaldo subsequently scored twice in a 5–1 friendly win over Cameroon on 5 March 2014 to become his country's all-time top scorer.
Ronaldo took part in the tournament despite suffering from patellar tendinitis and a related thigh injury, potentially risking his career. Ronaldo later commented: "If we had two or three Cristiano Ronaldos in the team I would feel more comfortable. But we don't." Despite ongoing doubts over his fitness, being forced to abort practice twice, Ronaldo played the full 90 minutes of the opening match against Germany, though he was unable to prevent a 4–0 defeat. After assisting an injury-time 2–2 equaliser against the United States, he scored a late match-winning goal in a 2–1 victory over Ghana. His 50th international goal made him the first Portuguese to play and score in three World Cups. Portugal were eliminated from the tournament at the close of the group stage on goal difference.
Ronaldo playing for Portugal in their Euro 2016 quarter-final match against Poland
Ronaldo scored five goals, including a hat-trick against Armenia, in the qualification for Euro 2016. With the only goal in another victory over Armenia on 14 November 2014, he reached 23 goals in the European Championship, including qualifying matches, to become the competition's all-time leading goalscorer. At the start of the tournament, however, Ronaldo failed to convert his chances in Portugal's draws against Iceland and Austria, despite taking a total of 20 shots on goal. In the latter match, he overtook Luís Figo as his nation's most capped player with his 128th international appearance, which ended scoreless after he missed a penalty in the second half. With two goals and an assist in the last match of the group stage, a 3–3 draw against Hungary, Ronaldo became the first player to score in four European Championships, having made a record 17 appearances in the tournament. Though placed third in their group behind Hungary and Iceland, his team qualified for the knockout round as a result of the competition's newly expanded format.
In Portugal's first knockout match, Ronaldo's only attempt on goal was parried by Croatia's goalkeeper into the path of Ricardo Quaresma, whose finish then secured a 1–0 victory late in extra time. After his team progressed past Poland on penalties, Ronaldo became the first player to participate in three European Championship semi-finals; he scored the opening goal and assisted a second in a 2–0 win against Wales, equaling Michel Platini as the competition's all-time top scorer with nine goals. In the final against hosts France, Ronaldo was forced off after just 25 minutes following a challenge from Dimitri Payet. After multiple treatments and attempts to play on, he was stretchered off the pitch and replaced by Quaresma. During extra time, substitute Eder scored in the 109th minute to earn Portugal a 1–0 victory. As team captain, Ronaldo later lifted the trophy in celebration of his country's first-ever triumph in a major tournament. He was awarded the Silver Boot as the joint second-highest goalscorer, with three goals and three assists, and was named to the team of the tournament for the third time in his career.
2016–18: Post-European Championship victory, and World Cup
Following the Euro 2016 success, Ronaldo scored six goals in the opening rounds of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with four being against Andorra and two against Latvia. These goals brought his international tally to 68 goals, putting level with Gerd Müller and Robbie Keane as the fourth-highest European international goalscorer of all-time. He played his first professional match on his home island of Madeira on 28 March 2017 at age 32, opening a 2–3 friendly defeat to Sweden at the Estádio dos Barreiros. With the goal, he tied with Miroslav Klose on 71 goals as the third-highest scoring European in international football.
In Portugal's opening match of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup against Mexico on 17 June, Cristiano Ronaldo set-up Quaresma's opening goal in a 2–2 draw. Three days later, he scored in a 1–0 win over hosts Russia. On 24 June, he scored from a penalty in a 4–0 win over New Zealand, which saw Portugal top their group and advance to the semi-finals of the competition. With his 75th international goal, Ronaldo also equalled Sándor Kocsis as the second-highest European international goalscorer of all-time, behind only Ferenc Puskás. He was named man of the match in all three of Portugal's group stage matches. Ronaldo left the competition early: after Chile defeated Portugal 3–0 on penalties in the semi-finals, he was allowed to return home to be with his newborn children. Therefore, he missed Portugal's third-place play-off match in which Portugal defeated Mexico 2–1 after extra time.
Ronaldo evades an Iran defender in the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup
On 31 August 2017, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in a 5–1 win in a World Cup qualifier over the Faroe Islands, which saw him overtake Pelé and equal Hussein Saeed as the joint-fifth-highest goalscorer in international football with 78 goals. These goals brought his tally in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers to 14, equalling Predrag Mijatović's record for most goals in a single UEFA senior men's qualifying campaign, and also saw him break the record for the most goals scored in a single European qualifying group, overtaking the previous record of 13 goals set by David Healy and Robert Lewandowski. Ronaldo's hat-trick took his World Cup qualifying goals total to 29, making him the highest scorer in European World Cup qualifiers, ahead of Andriy Shevchenko, and the highest goalscorer in World Cup qualifying and finals matches combined, with 32 goals, ahead of Miroslav Klose. Ronaldo later added to this tally by scoring a goal against Andorra in a 2–0 victory.
In the build-up to the 2018 World Cup, Portugal hosted friendlies against Tunisia, Belgium and Algeria. Ronaldo featured in the final of the three matches in which he made his 150th international appearance. On 15 June 2018, Ronaldo became the oldest player ever to score a hat-trick in a World Cup match, helping Portugal secure a 3–3 draw against Spain in their opening match at the World Cup. In doing so, he also became the first Portuguese player to score a goal in four World Cups and one of four players to do so in total. His third goal saw him curl in a 30-yard free kick with two minutes remaining for the equaliser. His hat-trick also drew him level with Ferenc Puskás as the highest European goalscorer of all-time, with 84 international goals. In Portugal's second game on 20 June, Ronaldo scored the only goal in a 1–0 victory against Morocco, breaking Puskás' record. In the final group match against Iran on 25 June, Ronaldo missed a penalty in an eventual 1–1 draw which saw Portugal progress to the second round as group runners-up behind Spain. On 30 June, Portugal were eliminated following a 2–1 defeat to Uruguay in the last 16. For his performances throughout the tournament, Ronaldo was later named to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Dream Team.