First 10 Eurovision finalists chosen

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Ireland will take part in the Eurovision Song Contest final for the first time since 2013 after making it through the first semi-final in Lisbon.

Switzerland, Belgium and Finland – featuring former X Factor semi-finalist Sara Aalto – were among the 19 countries in the semi-final.

Ten acts progressed to Saturday’s final, with nine eliminated.

The fates of the semi-finalists were decided by a combination of votes from national juries and viewers.

The UK, represented by SuRie, automatically qualified for Saturday’s final as one of the “Big Five” countries.

The other four are Germany, Italy, Spain and France, while hosts Portugal also automatically qualified for the final.

The other acts making it through the semi-final were:

  • Albania
  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Israel
  • Lithuania

Israel’s Netta was among those competing in the first semi-final with her track Toy, which has a powerful message of female empowerment – and a quirky and memorable chicken dance.

Cyprus, another country widely-tipped as a favourite to win the grand final, was represented by pop star Eleni Foureira, who brought the tropical and catchy beats of her track Fuego.

Born in Albania, Eleni first established herself as one third of Greek group Mystique in 2007.

The Czech Republic’s Mikolas Josef has been touted as the nation’s answer to Justin Bieber. The 22-year-old’s rendition of Lie To Me – a bouncy, swaggering tale of young love – has clear mainstream appeal.

He had to go to hospital after sustaining a neck injury during rehearsals.

Other notable acts included Finland’s Saara Aalto, who won over UK audiences during her time on the X Factor 2016, despite losing out in that contest to Matt Terry.

Ryan O’Shaughnessy represented Ireland, who have more Eurovision wins – seven – than any other country, but have not won the competition since 1996.

His song Together is about the end of a love affair and features two males dancers as the splitting couple.

It is Ireland’s first final since 2013.

Azerbaijan had previously never failed to qualify from a Eurovision Song Contest semi-final.

A further 18 countries will take part in the second semi-final on Thursday ahead of the grand final at Lisbon’s Altice Arena on Saturday night.

The UK’s hopes this year rest on London-born singer SuRie, who will perform her ballad Storm during Saturday’s final.

Speaking at the first semi-final, the singer whose real name is Susanna Marie Cork, said she was excited for Saturday, adding: “It’s such a dream.”