By Paul Sandle and Sarah Mills
LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) -Sweden's Loreen won Eurovision 2023 with the song "Tattoo" in Liverpool, northern England, on Saturday, becoming the first woman to triumph twice in the contest.
Finland's Käärijä, a green-bolero-sleeved rapper, came second. He won the viewer vote with "Cha Cha Cha", but it was not enough to overtake Loreen's lead after the result from the juries in the 37 participating countries.
"I am seriously overwhelmed," Loreen told reporters.
Comparing her win to 2012, she said: "It's like coming back to a family."
Loreen is the only person after Ireland's Johnny Logan to win the contest twice, and her victory puts Sweden level with Ireland as the most successful Eurovision countries, 49 years after Abba's famous victory.
The 67th edition of the musical festival was held in the "City of Pop" on behalf of Ukraine, last year's winner, which was unable to host this year because of Russia's invasion.
Organisers had to walk a tightrope between putting Ukraine centre stage and steering clear of any overt political messages, which are not allowed in the contest.
They largely succeeded.
Kalush Orchestra, 2022's winner, mixed video recorded in Ukraine with live performance in Liverpool in an opening sequence that included a cameo appearance from Britain's Kate, Princess of Wales, playing the piano.
But as the contest was underway, Russian missiles hit the western Ukrainian city of Ternopil, home to electro-pop duo Tvorchi, this year's entry from the country.
Local authorities, writing on Telegram, said the strike had injured two people.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was barred from addressing worldwide viewers - who numbered 160 million last year - by contest organiser the European Broadcasting Union.
It said that granting his request, which was made with "laudable intentions", would be against the non-political nature of the event and its rules prohibiting making political statements.
Nonetheless, the show, watched by thousands in person on the banks of the River Mersey and by millions on TV, was infused with the spirit of Ukraine, notably in a rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" jointly sung in the arena and in Ukraine and which brought many in the audience to tears.
The 26 acts in the final spanned musical styles from ballads to heavy rock to rap, and included a handful of bizarre performances that the contest is renowned for.
Germany finished bottom of the table, just behind Britain, but no country received the dreaded "nul points."
Pam Minto, a 37-year-old support worker, said she hoped her city did Ukraine proud.
"We've just loved the whole event right across Liverpool from start to finish. It's just been amazing," she said.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; additional reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Jason Neely and Leslie Adler)