Portugal Wins Eurovision Song Contest For First Time

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Salvador Sobral, center, smiles at cheering fans at Lisbon airport, Sunday, May 14 2017, after winning the final of the Eurovision Song Contest with his song "Amar pelos dois", in Kiev.

The black-clad singer took to a small separate stage for his minimalist performance of the song composed by his sister Luisa.

Sobral won easily, giving Portugal its first Eurovision win since it started competing in the global competition in 1964, and prompting congratulatory messages from the country's highest authorities.

(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky). Kristian Kostov from Bulgaria performs the song "Beautiful Mess" during rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest, in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, May 12, 2017.

A soft-spoken 27 year-old with a scraggly beard, Sobral won with "Amar Pelos Dois" ("Love For Both of Us"), sung in his native Portuguese.

#Ukraine is hosting Eurovision just two years after pulling out in 2015 over the armed conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the country's industrial east.

The song, featuring internet sensation Epic Sax Guy - who starred when SunStroke Project represented Moldova in 2010 - raked in the televotes to finish third.

Britain may be experiencing a post-Brexit vote chill in Europe, but pulled out all the stops with a big ballad performed by Lucie Jones, coming 15th.

The elephant in the room at Saturday's contest is Russian Federation, which is boycotting the event after Ukraine barred Moscow's contestant from entering the country - a symptom of the countries' toxic relations after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. The move allowed Russia-Ukraine tensions over Eurovision to fester.

The ceremony in the capital of ex-Soviet Ukraine began with a glittering light show as the contestants took bows on a stage lit up in the colours of their respective national flags. Last year's victors, Ukraine, finished in 23rd place out of the 26 finalists.

Eurovision has a major following, and it has helped to boost the careers of many performers - including Sweden's ABBA which won in 1974 with the song "Waterloo".

Francesco Gabbani of Italy had been the bookmakers' favourite but ended up sixth, even though his act seemed the epitome of Eurovision's cheerfully tacky aesthetics - singing a driving number about spirituality, accompanied by someone in a gorilla suit. The race was viewed by more than 204 million TV audience in European countries and other countries across the globe.