It will be the Blues’ first appearance at that stage of the competition for 30 years and they will hope to avoid the nerves that affected them against the Royals.
Apart from David Silva, Roberto Mancini’s men were below par and frustrations in the stands were already becoming apparent before Richards rose to power home Silva’s 73rd-minute corner to overcome a plucky Reading outfit.
In Sunday’s other game, Stoke booked their first FA Cup semi-final appearance for 39 years after bouncing back from a controversial West Ham equaliser to win 2-1.
The Potters’ first-half dominance was reflected in centre-back Robert Huth’s eighth goal of the season but Frederic Piquionne’s clear handball was missed by referee Mike Jones as the striker went on to score.
When former Hammer Matt Etherington missed a dubious penalty seconds into the second half it seemed it was not to be Stoke’s day but Danny Higginbotham drilled a free-kick through the wall which goalkeeper Robert Green could only push onto a post and into the net.
Stoke will face Bolton in the semi-finals.