Updated at 9.42am

Michela Pace’s rendition of Chameleon booked Malta a place in the Eurovision Song Contest final for the first time in three years.

Malta's name was the last to be announced among the finalists on Thursday night as tension swept through the arena in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

The X Factor Malta winner was among the 10 songs selected by televoting and judges for Saturday's final. Michela was in tears as the presenters named her among the finalists, as eight other countries were sent packing home.

She will be the very first singer to perform during Saturday's final, Eurovision organisers subsequently announced. 

Michela was accompanied on stage by four dancers as well as backing vocalist Destiny Chukunyere, herself a Junior Eurovision winner, amid a rapidly-changing series of projected scenes and colours.

Read: Michela will be the first performer on Saturday - is that good or bad?

The other countries which qualified in Thursday night's second semi-final were: North Macedonia, the Netherlands, Albania, Sweden, Russia, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland. 

Dutch singer Duncan Laurence is the favourite to win according to a survey of bookmakers by independent fan website Eurovision World with a 39 per cent chance of victory, with Malta in 10th place, while bookmaker Yobetit placed Chameleon in the top six.

A total of 41 nations competed in the 64th edition, with 10 countries qualifying from the first semi-final: Greece, Belarus, Serbia, Cyprus, Estonia, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland, San Marino and Slovenia.

The final on Saturday will feature Madonna, whose participation was only confirmed on Thursday, after a storm of protests, amid Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories.

Israel won the right to host the contest thanks to its 2018 Eurovision victory with Netta Barzilai's Toy.

Israeli politicians initially insisted that Jerusalem host the event, backing down only after objections by ultra-Orthodox politicians over the finals being held close to the Jewish Sabbath.

Pressures by pro-Palestinian activists and artists to boycott the Israeli event loomed in the background, and tensions with Gaza, culminating in a flare-up earlier this month affecting southern Israel, threatened to disrupt the event.

Malta and the Eurovision: a brief history

Between 1991 and 1998 Malta earned eight consecutive top 10 places, including third places in 1992 and 1998, and runners-up spots in 2002 and 2005.

However, Malta’s recent contenders failed to qualify for the final in three of the last four editions.

Out of the 23 times, Malta has been placed first by another Eurovision country, most times can be attributed to Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Malta has received more ‘maximum points’ votes from Croatia than any other country.

Malta has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 31 times since its debut in 1971.

Malta finished last on its first two attempts in 1971 and 1972, and had a 16-year absence from the contest between 1975 and 1991.

Malta's return proved more successful, reaching the top 10 in 12 out of 15 contests from 1991 to 2005, including third-place results for Mary Spiteri (1992) and Chiara(1998) and second-place results for Ira Losco (2002) and Chiara (2005).

Since finishing last for the third time in 2006, Malta has struggled to make an impact, with its only top 10 result being Gianluca Bezzina's eighth-place in 2013.


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