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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 May 2007, 22:53 GMT 23:53 UK
Serbian ballad wins at Eurovision
Marija Serifovic and her dancers
Serifovic, 23, qualified for the contest in Thursday's semi-final

Serbian singer Marija Serifovic has won the Eurovision Song Contest at a ceremony in Helsinki which saw the UK's entry coming joint second-last.

Serifovic's powerful ballad Molitva had been second-favourite with bookmakers in the run-up to the competition.

She scored 268 points, beating Ukrainian drag queen Verka Serdyuchka into second place. Russia was third, with Turkey fourth and Bulgaria fifth.

British act Scooch managed only 19 points with their song Flying the Flag.

1. Serbia (268 points)
2. Ukraine (235)
3. Russia (207)
4. Turkey (163)
5. Bulgaria (157)

Twelve of these came from Malta, which placed the UK entry top in its voting, but there was little recognition from other countries.

The UK tied with France one position above the bottom in the results table, with Irish folk group Dervish scoring only five points and coming last overall.

It meant that Scooch narrowly avoided finishing 24th out of 24, as British act Gemini had in 2003 - famously scoring "nul points" - with the song Cry Baby.

But Scooch were characteristically undeterred by the result.

"To be honest, this experience has been one in a million," said singer Caroline Barnes.

"But I have to say I laughed so much I cried at the voting. I'm not gutted. I don't want to say it was expected, but you know what Eurovision is like."

'So proud'

Serbia took first place with its first entry as a solo state at the Eurovision, having declared its union with Montenegro defunct last year.

The Eastern European state will now be charged with hosting the event in 2008.

Following her win, Ms Serifovic told reporters "a new chapter has opened for Serbia".

20. Spain (43 points)
21. Lithuania (28)
22=. France (19)
22=. UK (19, pictured)
24. Ireland (5)

"I am so proud. All my success is made by singing."

The competition had been embraced by people in the Finnish capital, which earned the right to stage the event when rock group Lordi won in 2006.

Lordi's song Hard Rock Hallelujah was reprised as the opening number of the show, at Helsinki's largest ice hockey stadium.

Big-screen TVs were erected in the city centre, where fans gathered to watch the ceremony.

Some 350 spin-off events had also been organised as part of Eurovision "fever".

The contest - held since 1956 - had a record 42 entries this year, but 18 were eliminated in qualifying rounds before Saturday's final.

It was broadcast to an estimated global TV audience of 100 million, with the winner selected after a poll in each country involving telephone votes and text messages.


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