Eurovision 2018: Ireland through to final

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Ryan O'Shaughnessy performs Image copyright EPA
Image caption Ireland’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy qualified for the final with his song Together

Ireland will take part in the Eurovision Song Contest final 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.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Finland’s Saara Aalto appeared on the UK’s X Factor in 2016

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.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Israel’s Netta proved popular with her empowering track, Toy

Cyprus, another country widely-tipped as a favourite to win the grand final, were 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.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Cyprus’ Eleni Foureira is a bookmakers’ favourite to win the contest

He had to go to hospital after sustaining a neck injury sustained 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.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s song is accompanied by two male dancers playing a couple at the end of their relationship

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.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption SuRie said it was a dream to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest

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 Storms 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.”

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Bulgaria also made it through to the final

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