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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 21:53 GMT 22:53 UK
Early Eurovision exit for Belgium
Belgian Eurovision singer Kate Ryan
Belgian singer Kate Ryan was the biggest casualty of the semi-final
The Eurovision Song Contest hopes of 13 countries have ended after the competition's semi-final in Athens.

The biggest shock was the elimination of Belgian singer Kate Ryan, one of the favourites for this year's prize.

But other hotly tipped performers from Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia did make it through.

Finland's masked metal band Lordi will also be in Saturday's final, as will Ireland's Brian Kennedy. The UK did not have to compete in the semi-final.

France, Germany, Spain and the UK automatically qualified for the final as the four largest countries in the event.

Finnish band Lordi
Finnish rockers Lordi are safely through to the final
Rapper Daz Sampson will represent the UK on Saturday with his song Teenage Life.

Hosts Greece and nine top-scoring nations from last year's contest were also already guaranteed places in the final.

Some 23 countries took part in the semi-final, with just 10 final places up for grabs.

The winners and losers were chosen by a public text and phone vote.

Belfast-born singer Brian Kennedy will represent seven-time Eurovision winners Ireland in the main event.

His semi-final success will come as a relief after the country was unexpectedly knocked out at this stage last year.

3/1 - Sweden, Carola
7/2 - Greece, Anna Vissi
4/1 - Romania, Mihai Traistariu
6/1 - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hari Mata Hari
6/1 - Russia, Dima Bilan
Source: Ladbrokes
Finnish rock band Lordi, whose masks, armour and jets of flame attracted widespread attention before the event, will also repeat their performance on Saturday.

Of the underdogs, Lithuania - whose act comprises six men in suits singing "we are the winners of Eurovision" - were surprise qualifiers for the final.

The other qualifiers from Thursday's semi-final were the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine, Turkey and Armenia.

But Cyprus, Estonia, Iceland, Slovenia, Albania and Andorra were knocked out.

The Netherlands, Poland, Belarus, Bulgaria, Monaco and Portugal were also unsuccessful in the semi-final.


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