Edin Dzeko's first-half winner was enough to give City all three points, while James Milner and Jack Rodwell were guilty of missing several golden opportunities to add a second thereafter.
While Richards admitted that City had not produced a performance of their usual high standards, he was happy with a professional display that was good enough to dispatch the Baggies.
|MANCHESTER CITY LATEST
|11/5||Manchester City are 11/5 with Paddy Power to win the Premier League next season
"We knew they would come here with nothing to worry about and no fear and they showed some good stuff tonight.
"We always want to play Champions League football and with Chelsea breathing down our necks – it was a must win game today."
With Roberto Mancini having made eight changes to the side that drew against Swansea in City's previous outing, Richards believes a number of the selected squad players made a strong case to be picked to face Wigan in the FA Cup final.
"I think a lot of players are scrapping for places," the versatile defender continued. "I’m sure the manager knows his XI but a lot of boys did justice for themselves tonight.
"Wigan probably deserved to win when they played us here last time so we won’t let that happen again."
The win over Steve Clarke's Baggies was only Richards' second start since returning from a torn knee cartilage in October and the 24-year-old says he was happy just to be back playing.
"Just to be back was good enough for me tonight and I think I did alright," he added. "There’s still a bit of sharpness missing but hopefully I can keep playing."